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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Music of the Heart offers positive messages about passion, integrity, leadership, the importance of music and art in children's development, fighting for something you believe in, and the rewards of perseverance and hard work in achieving your goals. It also focuses heavily on the importance of community in improving neighborhoods.
Positive Role Models
Characters are realistically drawn. Parents are engaged and present. Adults are involved in children's lives and behave ethically. Children are realistic and well-intentioned. Teachers, in particular, are shown as committed and determined to improving their student's lives, but there is at least one portrayed as phoning it in, which creates a realistic picture.
Violence & Scariness
Aside from a brief fight between kids, which shows one kid with a bloody nose and putting another in a headlock, there is no depicted violence in the film. However, the results of violent behavior are discussed, including the deaths of grandparents, a child who is discussed as having died from a gunshot wound from a drive-by, and a girl who discusses her father's abuse of her mother, but none of these instances is shown visually. The risk inherent in the lives of these inner city children creates a sense of peril about their lives overall.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A man and woman kiss in a few scenes. A man is discussed as having left his wife for another woman. A woman is shown waking up in bed, appearing to be naked under the covers (but with a blanket up to her arms), as if to imply the previous night's intercourse. Teenage boys place an ad in the newspaper to solicit dates for their single mother. A woman goes on a date with a man.
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Mildly insulting language is used, such as "stupid," "bitch," "what the hell," and "oh my god."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
In a few scenes, adults are showing drinking wine or beer in casual settings.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Music of the Heart is based on the true story of a teacher's struggle to teach violin to inner city kids in Harlem. There are some heavy themes, such as poverty, divorce, a father abandoning his wife and sons to be with another woman, and the discussion (but not depiction) of violence or its consequences, such as the death of a child from a drive-by shooting, and a family going into hiding because of the father's abuse. There is some mild profanity ("bitch" and "hell"). The film is a positive, uplifting look at the positive role of music in the lives of disadvantaged kids, but heavier themes and long run time (two hours) make it best for older kids. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
MUSIC OF THE HEART has its heart in the right place. It's an uplifting look, based on a true story, at a teacher whose single-mindedness and often very stubborn determination made a huge impact on hundreds of kids' lives. It touches on the struggles of single mothers, the lives of inner city kids, the complexity of race relations, the effects of poverty, and the way art and music is not just a fun extracurricular activity for many children -- it's a lifeline to a less impoverished life.
The film confronts death, poverty, divorce, and abuse directly in discussions but, because it doesn't depict those things graphically, kids who might otherwise be upset by these ideas have a buffer to ponder them without seeing them. However, at just over two hours, the film will challenge even the best attention spans. Best for parents and kids who've moved into discussions of music, art, community, or social justice.
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.