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Parents' Guide to

Hold On

By Lynnette Nicholas, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Powerful message, but plot falls short in faith-based drama.

Movie PG-13 2019 96 minutes
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This drama focuses on the benefits of having faith, hope, and a positive support system. Through the dealings of executive Peter Duran (Maurice Benard), the film fairly depicts some of the music business's manipulative, demeaning business dealings -- and the effects they can have on singers and performers. Hold On also does a good job of showing the compromises that rising talent can be forced to make, the rejection that comes along with auditioning, and the beauty standards that are unfairly projected on to people in the industry, especially women. Fortunately, Sidney has a strong support system in her mother, sister, and church pastor. As Pastor Rivera, Luiz Guzman is believable and authentically conveys a man of faith, but his acting skills could definitely have been used more. Similarly, veteran actress Beth Grant is powerful in her few short scenes as Shelly. Playing talented singer Zoe King, Amanda September is very well cast, and she does a fine job of conveying a hard truth of the entertainment industry: Even if they're less talented, "pretty girls" often get more opportunity due to their looks. In the starring role, De Ette has a natural vulnerability that's genuine enough to keep viewers engaged, even if her vocal ability far outshines her acting chops. And as Sidney's vulnerable brother Taj, Alvaro Manrique is memorable and engaging. On the other hand, while it's always fun to see him on screen, Flavor Flav (as Officer Drayton) just isn't believable.

While the movie offers a powerful message about holding on to your faith while in pursuit of your dreams, the film's plot is underdeveloped, sometimes choppy, and overly predictable. The story of a wealthy, troubled son of privilege who comes to the rescue of a disenfranchised woman of color living on the other side of town, with the two finding themselves united by their pain and trials and winding up in church with a happy ending -- it's just too expected. It's the clear message of hope, perseverance, and change that carry this film, not its storyline.

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