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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Many of the movie's messages aren't exactly positive, but they're important for young women to understand -- that even men who seem nice can turn out to betray you, that it's never OK to keep quiet when your partner is being abusive, that a man who cheats on you again and again isn't worth trusting, and that it's important to ask for help if you find yourself in a hopeless relationship.
Positive Role Models
Yasmine is a strongly positive role model. She runs the dance studio to help other young women, and even after she's raped, she continues to support her dancers. Juanita is a selfless nurse who dedicates herself to educating women about their bodies and their health. Gilda may be nosy, but she's also kind and helpful and wants to be there for her residents, especially Crystal. On the downside, there are male characters who are far less admirable: One passes HIV on to his unsuspecting wife, while another cheats on and leaves his girlfriend repeatedly.
Violence & Scariness
Disturbing violence in several scenes -- including an angry, drunk, and psychologically unstable father dropping his children out their apartment window, killing them both. Before that, he's also abusive toward his wife. In another scene, a woman is raped in her home by a seemingly sweet man whom she'd invited for dinner. A mother hits her grown-up daughters.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Several scenes of partially clothed men or women and of couples kissing. In one scene, a girl describes the events leading up to losing her virginity. One character is openly promiscuous -- to the point that one man she brings home assumes she's a prostitute until she throws him out. One character is often shown in revealing/tight-fitting clothes, a robe that's half open, or just panties and a top.
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Fairly frequent use of words like "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," and "bitch," as well as "p---y," "t-ts," "damn," "hell," "dick," "oh my God," and more.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
People drink wine and cocktails at a club, at a bar, and during a dinner date. One character drinks to excess on a regular basis.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this drama from filmmaker Tyler Perry deals with incredibly intense, disturbing issues -- including rape, domestic abuse, infidelity, and unplanned pregnancy. The story has a lot of sexuality, language, and violence -- the most difficult-to-watch scenes center on a rape and two children being killed by their own father. While the sex scenes aren't overtly graphic, there are lots of flashes of skin, plus passionate kissing and discussions of promiscuity. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," and "a--hole." Still, despite all of the mature themes, the movie's messages about standing up for yourself and asking for help may be worthwhile for older teenagers, especially young women, to take to heart. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This is Perry's best film so far. He extracts fabulous performances from his all-star cast. The actresses -- particularly Devine, Rashad, and Elise -- are excellent (the only slightly off-note performance is Goldberg's, because her character's religious cult's beliefs aren't explained, and her devotion rings slightly false). As the award-winning theater veterans of the ensemble, Devine and Rashad are an absolute pleasure to watch. With an arch of the eyebrow or a jut of the hip, they steal every scene from their younger co-stars.
Given that Shange's "choreo-poem" featured unconnected poems, Perry was smart to thread them together through the apartment building and other coincidences. But his compulsion to include long, poetic monologues -- accompanied by an emotional score -- only works part of the time. Other times it takes the viewer out of the story and creates an overwhelming sense of melodrama, both predictable and occasionally cringe-inducing. And then there's the dialogue (added by Perry) that just doesn't work at all, like a climactic exchange between Jo and her husband Carl (Omari Hardwick), in which the words "sorry" and "sorries" are traded at least 50 times. It reduces what should have been a powerful scene into a ridiculous, predictable conversation. With a tighter script and a little less of the soliloquies, this could have been an award-worthy film. As it is, it must settle for being Perry's best so far.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.