Of Boys and Men
By Joly Herman,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Emotional exploration of manhood and loss of a parent.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Reference to the family history concerns a forefather who was an escaped slave.
Z's life changes in the blink of an eye, and he has to find a strength that he didn't know that he had. The adults in his life attempt to give him strength in a time of crisis.
Positive Role Models
Aunt Janay is a strong woman. She can play some mean hoops and then drop some serious wisdom on the kids she just played. Z's dad learns to express his emotions in a culture that expects men to be tough at all times.
Violence & Scariness
Loss of a parent is the main theme. Shoving and threats among kids, but it's the adults who take vengeance into their own hands by beating up perpetrators of abuse. Z's father is ready to beat him with a belt when Z has snuck out of the house. Theme of sexual abuse is touched upon, but vaguely.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Adults talk about making love "all night" while sharing kisses. Kids mimic adult behavior, saying stuff like, "She was at my house last night doing the hootchie cootchie."
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Occasional language: "damn," "sucks," "butt."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Z and his friend are offered a hit off a blunt, which Z accepts. Older brother Terrell and Daddy Cole have emotional outbursts during alcohol-fueled scenes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this drama attempts to deal with a lot of heavy issues, including the loss of a parent, grief, abuse, survival, and loyalty. There's some violence (fistfights) and sexy talk between adults (and mimicked by kids), and kids are lured by a hustler's street wisdom, his drugs (marijuana), and the promise of easy money. The movie has prominent religious themes, including messages about doubting God, as well as belief in the afterlife.
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Where to Watch
Based on 2 parent reviews
Grief and Disrupted Family Peace Belong to All Races and Colors
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OF BOYS AND MEN REVIEW, BY TIPPYTAP4STRONG
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What's the Story?
Z Cole (Dante Boens) and his family suffer an extremely painful loss, and everything seems to fall apart at once. His father (Robert Townsend) is trying to be strong for the family, but the cracks around the edges begin to show. Luckily, Z's Aunt Janay (Victoria Rowell) is there to anchor the home with her indomitable female presence. But Z is still forced to make some very difficult choices concerning his friendships and his future as a man.
Is It Any Good?
Tearjerker alert: This is a two-hanky movie that attempts to do a lot in the time allotted. You could say that the family's personal struggle would be enough to engross the audience without having to get involved in child abuse issues happening in other homes. And there are some real moments of honesty and strength between a grieving father and his tender kids here. But there are also cliches that mar the purity of the emotion.
This tribute to Chicago's West Side would have benefited from a little giddy-up in its pacing. Some dialogue drags and distracts from what's interesting. And there's a sense that the producers are giving Chicago a mini-tribute, much as Baltimore was romanced in The Wire. But this tribute feels a little bit forced, even though some of the neighborhood scenes feel real. Not a movie for young or sensitive viewers, as there are some references to sexual abuse that are vague enough to cause confusion.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about respect. What is it? What isn't it? Is Z being disrespectful when he speaks his mind to his father? Where's the line?
Talk about the drugs and alcohol in the movie. What role do these substances play in the story? Teens: Do the kids' experiences with drugs resonate with you?
Z's father talks on a cell phone when he's driving. Got tips for him? How about having the driver pull over when he or she needs to make a call?
- On DVD or streaming: January 25, 2011
- Cast: Angela Bassett, Robert Townsend, Victoria Rowell
- Director: Carl Seaton
- Inclusion Information: Black directors, Black actors
- Studio: Warner Home Video
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 86 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: thematic material and brief drug use
- Last updated: February 25, 2022
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