A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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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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?
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