Made in America

Movie review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Made in America Movie Poster Image
Jay-Z music-fest docu fun for music lovers; strong language.
  • NR
  • 2014
  • 93 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive messages

The way music brings people together is a major theme here. Some of the personal and professional journeys of musicians and others touched by the festival are discussed.

Positive role models & representations

Interviews and lyrics talk about gang activities, shootings, and other violent events. Folks are visible bouncing around in mosh pits, but no one gets hurt.


Some lyrics contain some sexual innuendo, including lewd references to women and having sex.


Strong language, including "t-ts," "bitch," "f--k," "s--t," and other strong words, are audible during interviews and in song lyrics. The "N" word also is audible.


The documentary is a promotional vehicle for the festival. The Budweiser logo is visible. Excerpts from MTV music videos and festival performances are featured.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

References are made to Jay-Z's past drug activities and subsequent recovery.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the promotional documentary Made in America features rapper Jay-Z and other performers from the 2013 Made in America festival held in Philadelphia. It highlights how music has the power to unify people and contains positive messages about diversity, creativity, and the arts. Teen music fans will be drawn to it, but the strong language and lyrics with sexual innuendo make it a bit heavy for younger kids.

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What's the story?

MADE IN AMERICA is a documentary that chronicles the Budweiser Made In America festival in Philadelphia. It stars rapper, festival creator, and Philadelphia native Jay-Z, along with an array of singers and bands who performed at the 2013 event. It features interviews with and concert footage of a wide range of musicians, including Run-D.M.C., Pearl Jam, and Kanye West. International performers such as British musician Rita Ora and the popular Swedish band The Hives, who incorporate American-created material into their artistic work, are part of the show. In addition to the folks who make the event possible, it tells the stories of fans, street vendors, and others whose lives were impacted by the two-day spectacle. Throughout it all, the viewers are reminded of how music can bring people together as they find different ways to pursue their American dream.

Is it any good?

Made in America will entertain music fans while offering some observations about the artistry and life experiences that form part of each musician's work. Directed by actor/filmmaker Ron Howard, the documentary highlights the enormity of the Labor Day event, which brings a wide range of musicians from all over the world in an attempt to celebrate the ways that diversity among musical genres and its performers contributes to the way people can reach their goals, whatever they may be. It also underscores the different ways that musicians are keeping their creative integrity within the mainstream music industry and the changes that are taking place thanks to a new generation of musicians.

The messages behind it are positive, but most of the film is dedicated to showcasing the show's various performers and festival performances. Nonetheless, the individual conversations about the performers' life histories and their relationship to music are interesting. Discussions of the entrepreneurial ventures of both musicians and Philadelphia locals also offer insight.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the ways that the arts can be used to communicate positive messages. How do event such as music concerts, theatrical performances, and other arts-oriented happenings contribute to the way we understand the world?

  • What is the difference between a reality show and a documentary?

  • Is Jay-Z a role model? If so, what do you admire about him, and why?

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