A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The story might introduce viewers to the hip-hop/rap culture. Positive messages about self-identity and following your dreams.
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
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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."
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No cursing, but there's name-calling like "stupid" and "jerk," plus one instance of "butt."
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Products & Purchases
Music plays a big role in this movie, so naturally there's a soundtrack available.
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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
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.
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.