A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Clearly portrays the challenges faced by young men newly released from prison. Lauds the determination and righteousness of one of these men, an African-American who tries desperately to change his life. Exposes both the bureaucratic and societal nightmares that such individuals face.
Positive Role Models
Bambi Jones is the admirable hero who refuses to succumb to the pressures of the urban gangster life, and fights wholeheartedly against a governmental system that seems to doom him to failure. He is thoughtful, intelligent, brave, a devoted father, and fully understands what is right. He frequently but unwillingly is responsible for placing his son in dangerous situations, but has no resources at hand to change things. Government agencies and its officers, while often sympathetic, are bound by rules and regulations that appear to prevent them from advocating on his behalf. Even the movie's villains reveal complexities. Women are portrayed both as authority figures and as victims of the city's drug-riddled culture.
Violence & Scariness
While the actual violent episodes are few, a disturbing and life-threatening atmosphere is constant, with many scenes showing a small child in danger. Violent scenes include: a man revealing a bloody gunshot wound from which the bullet is extracted; the hero and his son chased by thugs with guns; a featured character is shot multiple times, dies, his bloody body observed by the hero and his child; adult brothers fight; a child awakens, terrified by the sound of gunshots; a master villain holds the hero and his son hostage at gunpoint.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
A woman bargains for her child's safety by offering veiled sexual favors; she is seen from the back as she prepares to take off her clothing.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Frequent swearing, obscenities, and racial slurs: "s--t," "ass," "jacking off," "bitches," and countless uses of "f--k" and the "N" word.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
Blind Fox beer, McSweeny's publishing, Kids Puffs.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Alcohol and drug abuse, as well as drug sales, are central to the story. In what is seen as a "drug culture," some characters use and sell drugs, smoke tobacco and marijuana, almost continuously consume beer. One central character is a crack addict, seen semi-conscious and/or high in several scenes.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Imperial Dreams is a hard-hitting, often unsettling and sad, portrayal of a young African-American man after he leaves prison with hopes of making a new life for himself and his son. It unquestionably feels real from start to finish, which heightens both the jeopardy and emotional content. Set in Los Angeles's Watts neighborhood, foreboding and menace accompany both hero and child. The child is terrified in a series of scenes during which he witnesses brutality. Violence incidents include: (Spoiler Alerts) a featured character shot multiple times; the bloody extraction of a bullet from a man's arm; man and boy running for their lives from gang-bangers; physical fighting; and characters held hostage at gunpoint. Drug and alcohol use, drug sales, and addiction are all major elements of the story. Profanity and ethnic slurs are pervasive ("f--k," "s--t," the "N" word). This remarkably poignant and moving film is recommended for mature teens and up. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Prepare to be dazzled by the performances and deeply moved by the story in this heartfelt, realistic, impeccably-produced film by first-time feature director Malik Vitthal. Making the rounds of film festivals after its debut at Sundance in 2014, Imperial Dreams had a limited theatrical run and finally landed at Netflix where it, hopefully, will reach a wide audience, perhaps because its star, John Boyega, is now a leading man in the Star Wars franchise. Boyega is extraordinary as Bambi. And he's surrounded by a large company of seasoned, talented supporting actors. The Coach twins, who play Day with treasured understatement and charm, will break your heart. It's not always an easy story to watch -- Bambi's journey is often painful and scarily out of control -- but it's a journey worth taking. Highly recommended for mature audiences.
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.