Let It Shine

Movie review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Let It Shine Movie Poster Image
Rousing rap-style musical has family-friendly themes.
  • NR
  • 2012
  • 104 minutes
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 19 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Educational value

The story might introduce viewers to the hip-hop/rap culture. Positive messages about self-identity and following your dreams.

Positive messages

Several lessons about being true to yourself and confident in your self-worth. Friendship, honesty, and open-mindedness are also points of reference in this story that celebrates conquering fear and connecting with people in new ways. The plot is rooted in rap, hip-hop, and gospel culture, so there are religious undertones as well.

Positive role models & representations

No character is perfect at the start, but each manages to see past the fear or pride that stands in the way of healthy relationships and positive self-esteem and make the changes needed to improve. That said, some of the characters are pretty stereotypical -- including an egotistical rap star and a Bible-pounding evangelical minister who loathes modern music.

Violence & scariness

A brief scuffle between teens during an argument, and a girl slaps a guy when she realizes he lied to her.

Sexy stuff

Two teens vie for a beautiful girl's attention, but there's nothing physical about the flirtatious exchanges. Occasionally it's said that someone looks "hot."

Language

No cursing, but there's name-calling like "stupid" and "jerk," plus one instance of "butt."

Consumerism

Music plays a big role in this movie, so naturally there's a soundtrack available.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Let It Shine stars familiar faces like Coco Jones (So Random!), Tyler James Williams (Everybody Hates Chris), and Brandon Mychal Smith (So Random!), so chances are your tween will want to watch it. Happily the movie lives up to Disney's straight-laced standards, balancing squeaky-clean content with a clever story that relates the classic Cyrano de Bergerac tale to a modern-day love story rooted in the hip-hop and rap culture. Expect some mild name-calling and put-downs between teens and some rebellious behavior on the part of a teen who has to break a few of his dad's rules to follow his dreams. Families will like the movie's positive messages about self-confidence, friendship, and staying true to yourself, all of which are reflected in the music on the soundtrack that's sure to be heavily marketed as well.

User Reviews

Adult Written byLovell (Mummy) Allen July 19, 2012

Really good for 11+, Those under will not understand and maybe disappointed. (It really isnt for younger children)

Best for 11+ ages, who would better understand and relate to the movie.Children younger than this are unlikely to understand all the concepts of the movie and w... Continue reading
Parent of a 7 and 11 year old Written bykaloren August 19, 2012

Fun, musical movie, great for 5th graders and older

I agree that this was a great way to intorduce my daughter to hip hop culture and rap music. She really loved the movie. I don't agree that younger kids s... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old June 16, 2012

A Lot of Shine

Let it Shine is a very unexpected and good movie with a really good message to sponser to kids, but their is one flaw, there are some heavy themes that makes it... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old June 15, 2012

Inspiring Disney Movie Musical

This Disney Channel Original Movie surpassed my expectations by a lot (my expectations were moderately high). I am a Christian and was impressed with the movie... Continue reading

What's the story?

LET IT SHINE puts a modern twist on the classic Cyrano de Bergerac tale, following aspiring hip-hop artist Cyrus DeBarge (Tyler James Williams), who enters a songwriting contest sponsored by the music label of his childhood friend-turned-singing-star Roxanne "Roxie" Andrews (Coco Jones). But when a mistake names his best friend, Kris McDuffy (Trevor Jackson), as the winner for Cyrus' song, shy Cyrus agrees to let Kris have the spotlight while he stands in the shadows scripting the music. Things get more complicated as Cyrus watches his friend win over fans and woo Roxie with Cyrus' own lyrics and words while he keeps his true identity a secret. But when the truth comes out, Cyrus must conquer his own doubts to accept his recognition and earn Roxie's trust again.

Is it any good?

With strong, pro-social messages and trademark Disney content, this melodic movie is a great choice for families. Be forewarned, however, that that other Disney trademark -- turning music-centered movies into big profits on soundtracks and other merchandising -- is sure to be an issue here, thanks to a camera-friendly cast of established TV personalities. But ultimately that may be a small price to pay for a quality movie the whole family can enjoy.

Disney draws on the talents of experienced TV stars to pull off this non-traditional reworking of Cyrano's tale. Mixing rap, gospel, and hip-hop music and a predominantly African-American cast, Let It Shine honors ethnic and artistic diversity and even works in some evangelical messages from Cyrus' minister dad (Courtney B. Vance). What's more, the story manages to give most of the characters the opportunity to change in ways that show them working through their insecurities and embracing the qualities that make them unique.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about self-esteem. Tweens: What are some of your favorite qualities about yourself? What issues cause you to look critically at yourself? Do you ever hold yourself to the standards you see from actors or actresses on TV?

  • Tweens: Did Let It Shine introduce you to anything new, music-wise? Did you enjoy the music? Are you inclined to want to hear more like it? What types of music do you enjoy most?

  • Were you familiar with the stars of this movie before you saw it? If so, did that influence your desire to watch? Do you ever find that what you see on TV influences how much you want certain products?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love musicals

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate