Want more recommendations for your family?
Sign up for our weekly newsletter for entertainment inspiration
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Wonderful messages about how chess can change your life and help you use skills that can help you become more disciplined, focused, and strategic. The movie also stresses how lower-income students must be given opportunities to find skills and talents.
Positive Role Models
Eugene dedicates his life after prison to helping high schoolers learn about chess and strategy and discipline. A man nicknamed the Chessman in prison teaches Eugene how to play and explains how chess can be life-changing.
Violence & Scariness
A teenager is shot and killed in a drug deal gone bad. High schoolers threaten each other and even teachers. Teenagers obtain guns and hold them for their illegal dealings. A woman's boyfriend beats up her teenage son, and it's implied he beats her as well.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
A few of the teens flirt and act interested in each other.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Insults and language includes "dumbass," "dumb," "what the hell," "damn," "loser," and "idiot."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
Crown Victoria and Escalade.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A mother is a drug addict and a drunk. Teen guys deal drugs.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Life of a King is based on the true story of Eugene Brown, an ex con who leaves prison and becomes an unlikely chess teacher to inner-city kids. There's some drug-related gun violence in the movie that leaves one teen shot and killed; a man beats up his girlfriend and her teenage son. Language includes "damn," "dumbass," "ass," "what the hell," and more. The movies feature inspiring messages about changing your life, learning a new skill, and making a plan for a better future. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Despite an admirable performance by Gooding Jr., humanizing a complicated man who truly seems to have changed his life, this movie is nearly unbelievably predictable -- even if it is fact-based. The entire film seems like a mash-up of several other movies about educators and coaches who help a group of inner-city youth: Stand and Deliver, Pride, Dangerous Minds, Lean On Me, and so on -- but it's not quite as interesting or well acted or even inspiring.
There are no failings in the performances, and the real story is no doubt empowering and touching, but the fictional representation of Brown's chess club is frustratingly obvious, plot point by plot point. The drug-using, abused mom, for example, calls her son's interest in chess "dumb," but everyone knows she'll be there crying and cheering him on for the championship match. It's too bad the story wasn't told as a documentary, because it's the real tale that should be retold and reproduced in other inner-city environments.
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.
Suggest an Update
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