Let It Shine

Rousing rap-style musical has family-friendly themes.
  • Review Date: June 15, 2012
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Musical
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 104 minutes

What parents need to know

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

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."


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


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

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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.

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?


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.

With strong, pro-social messages and trademark Disney content, this melodic movie is a great choice for families, but be forewarned 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.

Families can talk 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

DVD release date:August 7, 2012
Cast:Coco Jones, Trevor Jackson, Tyler James Williams
Director:Paul Hoen
Studio:Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Topics:Great boy role models, Great girl role models, Music and sing-along
Run time:104 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of Let It Shine was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 11 years old June 16, 2012
age 10+

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 better for kids ages ten and up. Rap, Gospel, and Hip-Hop are all in this "Dcom", so one of the families is Baptist and Cyrus' father does not like him rapping and modern day music. Consumrism is about twenty percent like mentioning Youtube, Budlight, Facebook, AFC and more. Otherwise this film is inspiring to say that you need to speak for yourself.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much consumerism
Teen, 14 years old Written byDesk05 June 18, 2012
age 9+

Let it shine- Best Disney Movie ever!

What I like/love: 1. The second Disney movie since 2007 to have an all African-American cast. It’s nice to see actors/actresses who look like me for once. 2. I LOVED THE STORY! 3. I loved the church theme! I’m glad Disney showed a positive image of the church for once. The pastor’s teaching reminds me of T.D Jakes for some reason. And oh my goodness, they said Jesus, God, and Christ in a Disney movie that’s almost forbidden! 4. I love rap and hip-hop. I also like every single battle rap they had, and, I know he’s the bad guy, but I liked Bling’s raps the most. 5. I love Tyler James William’s acting ever since “Everybody Hates Chris.” 6. I like Brandon Mychal Smith What I dislike/hate: 1. I don’t know why but I somewhat got upset with Roxie toward the end of the movie. It’s understandable that she was hurt, but I think she was a bit of a drama queen. 2. I wanted Cyrus and Roxie to kiss! I guess I understand why they didn’t though… Tyler’s twenty in real life and Coco’s fifteen I think…
Kid, 11 years old June 15, 2012
age 6+

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's strong Christian values. Good acting, good screenplay, good directing, and everything is good. Especially the music. The music is awesome. Now you can see how this movie is so great. This is my #2 Christian movie (behind Letters to God and ahead of Courageous). There is a lot of character development between the characters, especially between all the 3 main characters. Now for the parental review. This film has a lot of educational value, teaching people about music and church. There are a lot of positive messages and role models, except Da Bling, the bully rapper. There is some fighting between characters. There is some flirting and almost-kissing scenes in this movie. There is no product placement in the movie, but this movie had a huge marketing campaign with multiple music videos and a soundtrack. This movie premiered on the same day as Rock of Ages, and that is an adult musical so this is a great alternative. Go watch it!
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much consumerism


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