Parents' Guide to

Poetic Justice

By Corrina Antrobus, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

'90s romantic drama has language, violence, drug references.

Movie R 1993 109 minutes
Poetic Justice poster

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This 1993 romantic drama depicts the complexity, hardship, and unity of Black American life with its all-Black cast. Although considered a Hollywood classic, Poetic Justice is dated by its melodrama and clunky edits making for some uneven storytelling. However, the main actors have become revered cultural icons in cinema, music, and poetry, and the film provides an opportunity to see them starting out on their cinematic journeys -- particularly King who went on to become the first Black American woman to direct a film at the Venice Film Festival with One Night in Miami. This impressive ensemble cast is directed by the late and legendary director John Singleton, whose first film, Boyz in the Hood -- released two years previously -- saw him become the youngest person (as well as the first African American) to be nominated for the best director Oscar at the time.

Layered in its themes of a slow-blooming romance against a backdrop of tragedy and violence, the movie offers scope to discuss themes of grief and why hurt people behave the way they do. The film shines an honest, compassionate light on Black American culture as the double-date road trip drives through themes of societal issues. These include drink and drug use, poor housing situations, and the importance of forgiveness, letting love in, and family values. What begins as an awkward ride of cold shoulders and comedy wise cracks, warms to a tender romance between hurt people finding comfort in one another.

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