Mama, I Want to Sing!

  • Review Date: March 4, 2012
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 95 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Preachy musical has few surprises, not enough songs.
  • Review Date: March 4, 2012
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 95 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Amara and her mother both find that success draws them away from their basic values, disrupting relationships within their family. Some peripheral messages about shopping as a cure for a bad day.

Positive role models

Amara's domineering mother, Lillian, frequently tells her children what they should do and is certain her view is the only right one -- even though her son and daughter are adults and are aware they can make their own decisions.


A character lands a job as a combat photojournalist in Iraq. A few scenes show soldiers in bombed-out neighborhoods, though there are no actual combat scenes. Some people argue heatedly.


A mother gets upset when her grown daughter sings onstage in a skimpy outfit and suggests that her wardrobe choices are a sign of her lapsing morals.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Amara gets slightly defiant after a few glasses of wine and gets upset when someone suggests she's had enough.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this family drama includes some heated family arguments and plenty of discussions that center on faith and moral choices. Though the movie spends a lot of time on the potential problems that fame and success bring, the main characters eventually realize that family is the most important thing in their lives. Expect a bit of drinking, a few skimpy outfits, and scenes set in combat zones (though no actual combat is shown).

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Amara (played by Ciara), the daughter of a preacher and former star of the church choir, has grown up to become a pop sensation and is discovering that fame has certain requirements. Her mother, Lillian (Lynn Whitfield), a famous TV evangelist, fears that Amara is leaving her faith behind in the name of advancing her career. The two butt heads as they both become bigger and bigger stars, but in the end they realize that family is more important than any gig. Billy Zane co-stars as a controlling, domineering manager who hates women who won't do what he says -- pretty much the same character he played in Titanic -- and Patti LaBelle also appears as a family friend.

Is it any good?


MAMA, I WANT TO SING! looks like it should be a musical, from the title to the main character who's a rising musical sensation. Amara is even played by Grammy-winning singer Ciara. So why are there so few songs? Ciara mostly appears on stage, sings a few lines, and then the scene cuts to the end. Not until the third act does she actually get to sing an entire number. It's a mystery.

And certainly the director isn't cutting out the songs to make time for the rest of the story, because there isn't one. Amara's mom disapproves; the mother spends so much energy on her TV career that she has little attention left for her children; Amara's brother follows his dream, even though his family disapproves. There are a few more cliches as well, mostly focused on whether Amara is keeping true to her faith and whether her mother is losing track of what's important even as she rails on and on about spirituality. But it's not much of a story, it doesn't have much of an ending, and it tries way too hard to deliver its message.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Amara's choices. Do you think she's straying from her faith in pursuit of fame? Do you agree with her mother, or do you think her mother is being narrow-minded? What are the movie's messages?

  • What do you thing about Amara's brother's decision to become a combat photojournalist? Should he follow his dream, even if it might lead him into danger? What kinds of sacrifices are you willing to make for your dreams?

Movie details

DVD release date:February 14, 2012
Cast:Ciara, Lynn Whitfield, Patti LaBelle
Director:Charles Randolph-Wright
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox
Topics:Brothers and sisters, Friendship, Great girl role models, Music and sing-along
Run time:95 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:mild thematic elements

This review of Mama, I Want to Sing! was written by

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

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

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.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent Written byliberty12 August 19, 2012

Great Movie, shouldn't be underrated

Very good decent, family movie and I don't know what this site is talking about but there weren't any sex, violence, nor drugs in this movie at all. I give it 5 stars, yet I give it 10 because of the decency.
Teen, 13 years old Written bybefany April 10, 2012


this is a good inspirational story for children of ages 12-20
What other families should know
Great role models


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Essential School Tools