A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Making history means being brave and bold, using tons of perseverance. It takes talent and skill to win at something, but a true winner is also humble and grateful for success.
Positive Role Models
The Williams family -- particularly Richard, Venus, and Serena -- show courage in changing the White, affluent world of tennis. Richard demonstrates perseverance and courage in envisioning and pursuing better lives for his children. Even though Richard initially tries to teach his children gratitude and humility in an insensitive way, he does make sure they know the importance of showing those character strengths as they succeed in life.
Cast is largely Black, and comes together to successfully offer a positive representation of a Black family. There have been some colorism-related critiques of producer/star Will Smith casting himself as Richard despite being much lighter-skinned than the real man. (Though he does do a great job portraying Richard's bombastic nature.) Features many strong female characters, especially the Williams daughters and Richard's wife, Oracene. But aside from Venus, Serena, and occasionally Tunde, the other Williams girls don't have many, if any, lines.
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Violence & Scariness
Punching, pistol-whipping, gun violence (including minor character getting shot and killed on-screen), mention of sexual abuse (threat of Tunde being raped), police brutality (including footage of police beating Rodney King), descriptions of racism and racist violence (including mentions of Ku Klux Klan and people being punched and tortured during Jim Crow).
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Language includes "f--k," "ass," "crap," "damn," "screw you," "bulls--t," and "hell." Also slurs like "nigga," "bitch nigga," and "cracker," plus words that could be considered ableist, such as "stupid" and "nuts." One use each of "G-damn" and "oh God."
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Products & Purchases
Mentions of Nike, Reebok, Puma, and Fila as those companies try to get Venus Williams to sign lucrative deals with them.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A background character is seen drinking from a brown paper bag, implying the contents of the bag is alcohol. It's mentioned that another rising tennis star is arrested after being found with pot in her hotel room. Richard tells Venus he does not want her to follow a similar path.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that King Richard is a moving, entertaining sports biopic about Richard Williams (Will Smith), the father of tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams. Dialogue includes swearing ("s--t," "hell," and "ass"), as well as slurs like "nigga." There are also scenes of gang violence and racial violence, and a minor character is shot and killed on-screen. Brands such as Nike, Puma, Reebok, and Fila are mentioned. With themes of perseverance, courage, gratitude, and humility, the film successfully offers a positive representation of a Black family and focuses on Richard's attempts to be a better father than the one he had growing 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?
This moving, entertaining drama might be Smith's best acting yet; he mostly loses himself in the role of Richard Williams. While it doesn't make complete sense for Smith -- who looks nothing like Richard and doesn't even have the same skin tone -- to play Venus and Serena Williams' father, he captures Richard's essence as a strong-willed man who's ready to move heaven and earth to make his daughters' lives better than his. It's one of the rare moments in Smith's career in which viewers are more likely to see Smith's character and performance before they see Smith the actor. Yes, there are a few times in King Richard when Smith slips in his portrayal of Richard's Louisiana accent, but they're brief and early enough in the film to forgive. Smith's commitment to the role shines through, and his earnestness to give Richard his flowers as a father and visionary happily color the performance.
Equally as powerful -- if not more so -- is Aunjanue Ellis as Richard's wife, Oracene. She commands the screen with her nuanced, realistic performance of a long-suffering Black wife and mother who shared her husband's dream despite her issues with his process. She also brilliantly conveys how those misgivings sowed the seeds for the Williamses' eventual divorce. Even through her irritation and frustration, Oracene shows the love she has for Richard. Sidney and Singleton are also commendable as young Venus and Serena. Both actresses had to learn to play tennis at a level convincing enough to be believable, and their commitment comes through as they score aces that look exactly like the real thing. They also portray the balance between childlike excitement and exuberant confidence that the real-life Williams sisters have for the game, as well as their close bond. Overall, King Richard is a fantastic film for sports fans, tennis lovers, and fans of the Williams family.
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.