Of Boys and Men Movie Poster Image

Of Boys and Men

Emotional exploration of manhood and loss of a parent.
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 86 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

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.


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.


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."


Occasional language: "damn," "sucks," "butt."

Not applicable
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.

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.

Kids say

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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.

Families can talk 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?

Movie details

DVD/Streaming release date:January 25, 2011
Cast:Angela Bassett, Robert Townsend, Victoria Rowell
Director:Carl Seaton
Studio:Warner Home Video
Run time:86 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:thematic material and brief drug use

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Parent Written bytippytap4strong May 16, 2012


i just watched this movie on BET, and i have to admit, that i had neve heard of it b4. i caught the movie by chance, i have 2 say THIS MOVIE WAS EXCELLENT!!!! i cied through most of it, but it was WORTH EVERY TEAR!!!! it is a ~ POSITIVE BLACK MOVIE , THAT DEALS WITH REAL EVERYDAY ISSUES!!!! ~
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Parent Written byMissJanWalker September 8, 2012

Grief and Disrupted Family Peace Belong to All Races and Colors

I came across this movie (on BET) while on vacation in Daytona Beach, Florida, one peaceful Friday afternoon in September 2012. Though I was in a lovely beachfront location, the movie became the best part of my trip--not the beach. The movie's spiritual message (its courage to acknowledge the power of prayer in this suddenly anti-God, anti-Christian country) is soothing and pleasing to the soul. I love that it portrays an intact African American family whose father is present and hard-working and openly affectionate with his wife (who wouldn't be, with Angela Bassett?), and who is an entrepreneur and business owner. I love that the children are articulate, studious and, under normal conditions, respectful. The power of a loving, morally strong, selfless aunt (Victoria Rowell) is also an endearing part of this story. And as one who now drives an eighteen-wheeler for a living and raised my beloved black son by myself, I was deeply moved to tears by two scenes in the movie. The blue-collar world of Chicago isn't only filled with the stereotypical rough-hewn ghetto ne'er-do-wells, it also boasts those blacks who make a conscious effort NOT to be stereotypical, and this movie does a great job of showing that fact. I truly appreciate Robert Townsend and everyone else associated with creating this inspiring, well-written, well-cast, well-acted dreamworld.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking