Hold On

Movie review by
Lynnette Nicholas, Common Sense Media
Hold On Movie Poster Image
Powerful message, but plot falls short in faith-based drama.
  • PG-13
  • 2019
  • 96 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Positive messages include holding on to hope in face of adversity, disappointment, rejection. Other prevalent themes include not giving in to secular norms and outside pressure, not turning your back on family members and friends when they're at their lowest.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Sidney doesn't compromise who she is/her faith for success in the music industry. Her mother and sister are supportive, loyal family members who believe in Sidney. Pastor Rivera is an uncompromising church leader who doesn't believe that Sidney should miss church for auditions on Sundays, yet he doesn't judge Sidney for her decisions. A police officer is a mentor and positive influence on a troubled young man.


A character is beaten badly by someone who's under the influence of drugs and is mentally ill. A father and son argue and scream at each other.


Mercedes jeep shown as aspect of privileged life.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A few scenes in which adults smoke and drink.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Hold On is a faith-based drama about Sidney Rhodes (Micayla De Ette), a gifted singer who's struggling in her career, and her unlikely friendship with Vic Duran (Tarek Tohme), a wealthy, troubled young man who later advocates for her. The movie honestly depicts some of the challenges and choices that artists have to make as they hold on to hope while in pursuit of their dreams. Unwilling to compromise on her faith, identity, or appearance, Sidney comes to learn that things may not always go the way that you want them to, but in most cases they work out for the greater good. And Vic comes to learn that when you genuinely seek to help others, there's deliverance in it for yourself, too. One violent scene shows a man being badly beaten and hospitalized, and there's some smoking and drinking by adults. But there's nothing to worry about in terms of language or sex, and the film offers positive messages about holding on to hope, not compromising, and unexpected connections.

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What's the story?

HOLD ON is a candid, faith-based movie that centers on Sidney Rhodes (Micayla De Ette), a talented singer who struggles to hold on to her dreams in the face of adversity. She establishes an unlikely friendship with Vic Duran (Tarek Tohme), the privileged, troubled son of a high-profile music executive. Though faced with financial strain, dwindling faith in her fledgling singing career, and overwhelming concern for her brother (who's battling drug addiction and poor mental health), Sidney doesn't give up hope. And while, on the surface, her and Vic's lives couldn't be more different, fate has an interesting way of showing that there's a greater plan.

Is it any good?

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the positive benefits of having faith. In what ways does Sidney gain strength from her faith and her church community?

  • Is Sidney a role model? In what ways does she exemplify the character strengths of integrity, honesty, and discipline?

  • How does the friendship between Vic and Sidney change both of their lives? How do Vic and Sidney show empathy toward each other?

  • In Hold On, both Zoe King and Sidney have singing talents. In what ways are they similar? In what ways are they different? In what ways do both Sidney and Zoe show courage? How does the film address the issue of looks-based opportunities in the entertainment industry?

  • Compromise is a theme within the movie. In what ways does Sidney choose not to compromise? What are the results of that choice?

Movie details

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