A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Juice is a 1992 crime drama in which four teenage friends in Harlem go down a violent path after an attempted gunpoint robbery of a corner store goes horribly wrong. The lead characters shoplift at a record store, drink malt liquor, and smoke marijuana before one of the four (played by Tupac Shakur) becomes increasingly violent, resorting to his gun to solve any conflicts with friends or enemies. Shooting deaths and injuries, often at close range. Frequent profanity, including the "N" word, "f--k," and "motherf---er." Racial and homophobic slurs. A man attempts to rob a bar with a shotgun; a news report shortly after says that the man was shot and killed by the police. Some bullying -- members of a rival gang verbally and physically accost one of the lead characters. Lead characters talk about sex, claiming to have had sex with different girls in the neighborhood.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Q (Omar Epps), Bishop (Tupac Shakur), Raheem, and Steel are four teens growing up in Harlem in JUICE. Inseparable, they spend their days hanging out, facing frequent harassment from a Puerto Rican street gang, and running from the police. But Q has bigger dreams, hoping to pass an audition to compete in a local DJ competition. Meanwhile, Bishop is tired of running of feeling disrespected on the streets and wants the group to take part in an armed robbery of a neighborhood corner store. Q is hesitant, as the night of the planned robbery coincides with the DJ competition, but succumbs to Bishop's manipulation. The four enter the corner store, and just before they leave, Bishop shoots and kills the clerk. While Q, Steel, and Raheem struggle with being an accessory to a homicide, Bishop grows increasingly disturbed and violent. As Bishop begins to turn on friends and enemies alike, Q must find a way to stop him.
Is it any good?
Decades after its initial release, this film has stood the test of time. Its message of the lengths young men will go to find some control over their own destiny remains eternally relevant. Tupac Shakur's portrayal of a teen who grows increasingly dependent on gun violence to overcome feelings of powerlessness with friends and enemies alike manages to retain some depth and nuance, even as the character becomes more like a two-dimensional bad guy as the movie goes on.
The plot loses some of the initial energy and originality as Shakur's character grows more evil. The horror movie tropes of Bishop (Shakur's character) appearing seemingly out of nowhere (with the requisite horror movie background music) is cheesy and superfluous. This aspect is what keeps Juice from being a classic crime drama. And yet, despite this, the themes of the movie remain central to the story, and what ultimately resonates is the coming-of-age tragedy of four friends, lost lives, and lost dreams.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about crime dramas. What are some of the elements of crime dramas, and what are some of the ways in which Juice can be classified as a crime drama?
One of the lead characters is portrayed by Tupac Shakur, who has since become a hip-hop icon. Does the criminal behavior of the character he portrays set a bad example for impressionable viewers, or do you think viewers can separate fiction from reality?
How are the characters shown resisting and succumbing to peer pressure?
- In theaters: January 17, 1992
- On DVD or streaming: June 6, 2017
- Cast: Tupac Shakur, Omar Epps, Samuel L. Jackson
- Director: Ernest Dickerson
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 95 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: Strong language, and for some violence.
- Last updated: March 13, 2020
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