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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Perseverance is shown in overcoming setbacks. Don't give up on your dreams. Sometimes, by stepping out of our comfort zone and pushing ourselves, you can achieve your goals. Friendship can occur in places you wouldn't imagine.
Positive Role Models
Vince is flawed, initially thinking of just himself and promoting his new music. But as time passes he starts to put Stevie first, and reconnects with music and himself. He also uses music as a means of therapy to help with Stevie's autism. Both Vince and Stevie learn a lot from each other. Stevie's mother is very protective -- overly so at times -- but it is always understandable as to why.
The two leading characters are White and male. But much of the supporting cast and local business owners are people of color, showing London to be the multicultural city that it is. The co-lead is an autistic character, portrayed by a neurodiverse actor. It is a positive portrayal with any negativity they encounter clearly marked as being intolerant and narrow-minded.
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Violence & Scariness
When the band are heckled at a show, a fight breaks out between the musicians and the hecklers, turning into a brawl with punches thrown. A character's face is left bruised and bloodied. Several references to the death of a sibling.
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Consistent uses of words such as "f--k" and "s--t," as well as "pr--k" and "d--khead." A character with autism is referred to as "special needs" in a derogatory manner.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Live music performances take place in bars where people are seen drinking alcohol. In one scene, a character goes to the pub to have a drink on their own. A younger character celebrates their birthday with a beer.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that I Used to Be Famous is a charming British drama that promotes the idea of never giving up. It's notable for not only having an autistic supporting lead character, but also for casting a neurodiverse actor in the role. When down-on-his-luck former boy band member Vince (Ed Skrein) meets Stevie (Leo Long), a young drummer with autism, the pair form a two-person band. Vince helps Stevie come out of his shell and his comfort zone, while Stevie helps Vince become less self-obsessed. Though not constant, the language is strong, with many uses of words like "f--k" and "s--t." In one scene, Stevie is derogatorily called "special needs." There's a moment of violence when a brawl kicks off at one of the band's live performances. Punches are thrown, and Vince is left with a bruised and bloodied face. There are also a number of references to the death of Vince's brother, something he's struggling to overcome. Characters drink throughout the film, though never to excess. 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 charming comedy-drama could be accused of being a little overly sentimental at times. But there's no denying that I Used to Be Famous has a good heart. Skrein excels in the lead role. His character, Vince, has a real sincerity to him that enriches the performance. There's also an authenticity that derives from hiring a neurodiverse actor (Long) to play the character of Stevie -- who is on the autistic spectrum -- and something the film should be commended for.
The setting is vibrant too, and has a positive effect on the tonality of the film. London's Peckham comes to life on-screen and works as a great backdrop for the story to unfold. Regrettably though, the movie does suffer in one area: its music. Vince and Stevie are creating new songs for the former's comeback shows. But what is written isn't quite strong enough, which detracts from the story. That said, the film is understated, avoiding cinematic cliches often seen in other underdog stories. Instead it revels in more intimate, human triumphs, like friendship.
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.
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Our Editors Recommend
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Movies with Characters Who Have Learning and Attention Issues and Developmental Disabilities
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