Parents' Guide to

Morris from America

By S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Warm father-son coming-of-age comedy has edgy material.

Movie R 2016 91 minutes
Morris from America Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 16+

Based on 1 parent review

age 16+

Believe the R rating

Don't be fooled by the fact that the main character is 13 and has a sweet baby face. While the kid himself is innocent enough, and very likeable, he gets involved with a girl who's a couple years older and WAY wiser. The kid wisely rejects the ecstasy he's offered, but is later seen smoking pot and drinking with college-age kids. And then there are the sexual references, present in the rap lyrics the kid sings and elsewhere. Granted, the father has a talk with the kid about the inappropriateness of his lyrics, but his reasoning for the inappropriateness is not quite what I'd hope for. The father also calls a phone sex line, and though you can't tell if he actually enjoys it, there is some very explicit language from the woman on the other end. Long story short, we felt uncomfortable watching this with our kids and wished we had heeded the R rating. It's there for a reason.

This title has:

Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1):
Kids say (1):

This is a delightful fish-out-of-water comedy that's interesting and bold and brings something new to the genre. There are so many ways that Morris from America could have ended up like so many other teen-falls-in-with-a-bad-crowd films, but that's not what happens here. Instead, Morris from America shows us a real kid, with real issues, and a real -- as in living but flawed -- relationship with his father. The issues aren't huge on the grand scale of life, but they certainly loom large for Morris, a deeply empathetic character who makes this charming film so winning. He likes Katrin, but she vacillates between flirting with him and making fun of him with her friends. He wants to fit in, but he isn't sure about drinking or taking drugs with his new friends. Director Chad Hartigan and Christmas makes us care about this boy, who's not so sweet or so kind but is instead struggling with problems that anyone who's ever been 13 can understand.

The movie's moral center is Morris' relationship with his dad, who wants to be his son's pal but also has to rein him in sometimes. Curtis, played by an impressive Robinson, pushes his son to get out in the world but then worries about him. He's tough but sweet and loving, and it's a pleasure to see the father and son characters connect, even when they fight. The film avoids cliches and stereotypes about African-American fathers and sons, replacing them with an authentic portrait of youth, grief, the need to belong, and a search for deep familial connection. Morris from America may seem like a small story, but it has a huge heart.

Movie Details

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