A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Not really a message film, but community and personal integrity are valued. The film has a peace-and-love vibe.
Positive Role Models
The main character is good-hearted and brave.
Violence & Scariness
A character is shot to death, but it's not shown graphically. Physical evidence that a character was roughed up off-camera. Kidnapping.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
The main character and his girlfriend are in love, and she gets pregnant, but nothing particularly sensual is shown.
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Donald Glover/Childish Gambino's lyrics can occasionally contain profanity, but if any of words slipped into "Guava Island," they've done so imperceptibly.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Guava Island is an hour-long movie starring Donald Glover as a local musician who wants to throw a festival on an island run by a brutal boss (Nonso Anozie) who may go to extremes to stop it. Expect some fairly bloodless menacing by bad guys: A character is shot to death (non-graphic), and there's physical evidence that suggests a character was roughed up off-camera. Adult themes include unplanned pregnancy and violent threats, but there's no explicit content. Rihanna and Letitia Wright (Black Panther) co-star. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Guava Island may not have the crackling brilliance that Glover has spoiled us to expect, but it's still a warmly assembled showcase for his talents. It's a harmless bit of self-mythologizing that harkens to The Harder They Come, City of God, Purple Rain, and others. Glover casts himself as a good-hearted musical savior -- something you might expect Glover to do ironically, but which seems in earnest here -- and brings plenty of personality and chops to sell it. There are no surprises in the plotting and movement of this music-infused, short (it's 55 minutes long) film. But that's of questionable importance, since it seems to be about the experience, rather than the story or characters.
Frequent Glover collaborators director Hiro Murai (who also helmed Glover's famous "This Is America" video and many episodes of his Atlanta series) and cinematographer Christian Sprenger (an Emmy winner for Atlanta) capture a summery island vibe. The film's boxy 4:3 aspect ratio and grainy celluloid look evoke the '70s with fondness. With several new songs and reinterpreted pieces of Glover/Childish Gambino hits "This Is America," "Summertime Magicm" and "Feels Like Summer," Guava Island also feels like a less-trippy "Magical Mystery Tour" at times. Glover's performance swings from naturalistic to something more suited to the large gestures of a movie musical. But that's OK, since the film's mythological introduction and habit of bursting into song tell us not to anchor ourselves too much in naturalistic reality. In a small role as Kofi's co-worker in one of Red's sweatshops, Letitia Wright reminds us of her irresistible charisma. This slight but charming film may be designed for a passing cultural moment -- sort of a Snapchat of a mini-movie, but with distinct flavor and powerhouse talent.
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.