If Not Now, When?

Movie review by
Monique Jones, Common Sense Media
If Not Now, When? Movie Poster Image
Black women lead so-so friendship drama with mature content.
  • NR
  • 2021
  • 111 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Offers positive examples of long-term friendship between women from high school to adulthood. 

Positive Role Models

The main characters, all Black women, are positive examples of compassion, support, empathy for their friends. Particularly notable is how Suzanne, Patrice, and Deidre help single mother Tyra raise her daughter. 


Tyra slaps her daughter while trying to get clean from prescription medication. Suzanne smashes objects in her house after her ex-husband serves her divorce papers. 


Kissing, simulated sex. 


Swear words including "f--k," "f--king," "damn," "s--t," "bitch," "a--hole," and "bulls--t". Exclamatory use of "God." Use of ableist term "stupid."


Quick focus on Welch's products, including jam and sparkling grape juice. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Substance abuse (pain medication) and drinking (both recreational and harmful).

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that If Not Now, When? is a drama that focuses on the bond that four Black women -- Tyra (Meagan Good, who also co-directed), Patrice (Tamara Bass, co-director/writer), Suzanne (Mekia Cox), and Deidre (Meagan Holder) -- have from high school to adulthood. The film focuses primarily on Tyra's fight to regain sobriety after abusing pain medication. Characters also drink, both harmfully and recreationally. Expect to see kissing and simulated sex and hear language ranging from "f--k" to "s--t" to exclamations of "God." But overall, the film has clear themes highlighting the importance of friendship and compassion.

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What's the story?

IF NOT NOW, WHEN? focuses on the long-standing friendship between Tyra (Meagan Good, who also co-directed), Patrice (Tamara Bass, co-director/writer), Suzanne (Mekia Cox), and Deidre (Meagan Holder). The four women have known each other since high school and reunite as adults to support Tyra while she gets the help she needs to battle her dependence on prescription drugs. As they assist Tyra, each woman goes through her own struggles with the others -- and with romantic relationships. The friends also help raise Tyra's daughter, Jillian (Lexi Underwood), while Tyra is in rehab. 

Is it any good?

This drama can be lauded for the fact that it was written, directed, and produced by Black women. Good and Bass shared the director's chair, and the film was based on Bass' script and produced by Good. The film also deserves credit for giving great actors -- like Edwin Hodge, Cox, Niles Fitch, and Underwood -- more visibility. But aside from that, If Not Now, When? is only so-so. The film is meant to be a friendship drama in the vein of Waiting to Exhale, but it fails to reach those heights. Instead, scenes seem disjointed and loosely held together by the conceit of the main characters' friendship. Though, frankly, their friendship seems to come second to each woman's personal problems. 

The film is also nearly two hours, which is too long. That makes it even more boring, and some viewers might find it a chore to sit through. Which is a shame, since the plot has the ability to be the basis for a great film. Alas, If Not Now, When? is more potential than product. Only die-hard fans of the actors and/or movies about Black women in friendship will be able to see it through.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about friendship. What does it mean to be a good friend? How would you manage arguments with your friends? When or how have you demonstrated compassion to your friends?

  • How does the film's focus on substance abuse relate to national struggles with prescription medication addiction?

  • How does If Not Now, When? compare to other movies you've seen about friendship? Do you consider the characters role models? Why, or why not?

  • Teens: What goals do you have for adulthood? What tactics will you use to reach those goals?

  • How do you manage your feelings when life surprises you, for better or worse? What are some ways to stay present in the moment without getting wrapped up in the future?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love friendship stories

Themes & Topics

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