Parents' Guide to

Kings

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Uneven LA riots drama has violence, sex, and language.

Movie R 2018 92 minutes
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Although there was potential in exploring the chaos of the LA riots from an atypical perspective, director Deniz Gamze Ergüven's drama is more of a confusing mess than a revelation. Kings (a reference to both Rodney King and Martin Luther King Jr.) is particularly disappointing when you consider how masterful Ergüven's Mustang was. It can sometimes require a delicate balance when a filmmaker from another country tells a uniquely American story, and in this case, no matter how much research might have been done in preparation, Ergüven doesn't seem to know how to approach the subject matter.

There are moments in Kings when it feels less like a tale of the riots and more a messy romantic dramedy between a gorgeous but put-upon single mom and her eccentric, boozy neighbor with a penchant for walking around his house naked. Somehow, in the lead up to one of the most seminal riots in American history, this film has time to show Millie's erotic dream featuring Obie. Meanwhile, the two oldest teen boys in Millie's care both fall for Nicole, the fearless homeless classmate that Jesse brings home. Then there's the cohort of pre-teens and elementary-aged siblings who have a Little Rascals-like adventure: looting new clothes and toys and then standing around while a Burger King manager begs a crowd not to throw bottle bombs by reminding them of the menu items they love so much. Like the entire film, the sequence is off-putting, confusing, and surreal. Audiences are far better off skipping the fiction and watching John Ridley's Let It Fall.

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