Parents' Guide to

Outsiders

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Mature, thought-provoking sci-fi thriller centers Black POV.

Movie R 2022 85 minutes
Outsiders Movie Poster

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Jaylen is trying to solve the mystery of what happened to Amira, but this compelling sci-fi thriller tackles an even more relevant question: How and why does racism still exist? Director Delmar Washington asks for empathy in understanding what it's like to be Black in a mostly White community. He captures the fact that racism can just as easily be expressed in what comes out of someone's eyes: the side eye, the eye roll, the stare down. And he makes it clear that all of this is perpetuated in everything from school curriculum to what parents say in passing to their kids.

All of that said, while the movie effectively presents the impact of racism, that's not all that it's about. If Jaylen were White, many of the film's events wouldn't change: He's a kid who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, who couldn't have done much differently at the time of Amira's disappearance. It will feel like a relatable situation for many teens, regardless of their color. But the fact that Jaylen is Black makes proving his innocence far more difficult. Scenes offer painful reminders of the kind of tragedies that fuel the Black Lives Matter movement: Jaylen is a Black teen wearing a hoodie who's pulled over by an intimidating White cop for a broken taillight, and deputies aggressively hold his head and neck down on the ground during arrest. (Shane West is so believably formidable as a small-town sheriff that he should worry about typecasting.) The mystery of Amira's disappearance is solved, but viewers will likely be left wanting more information. Perhaps this is intentional, a reminder that even when we get answers to life's big questions, they're often not as satisfying as we hope.

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