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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Despite its many painful, cruel scenes and characters, the ultimate takeaway from this powerful drama is that no matter how persistently someone attempts to break you down, you are special.
Positive Role Models
A mixture of gruesome and awesome. Precious' parents are vicious and uncaring (both are abusive, and her mother also handles a baby a little roughly, insults a special needs child, and calls her teen names), yet she finds a way to rise above it. Her teacher provides much-needed mentoring, and her new classmates offer friendship. Some cruelty among teens.
Violence & Scariness
Overwhelmingly cruel at times, with a father molesting his daughter and a mother shown beating the same child -- including throwing objects (a television, for instance) at her and kicking her. One fight in particular is shockingly graphic. A man is shown unbuckling his belt and forcing himself sexually on a child.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Except for some dream sequences in which teens flirt with each other, all depictions of sex are either overtly or more subtly associated with violence (including assault). A woman is seen under the covers moaning, presumably pleasuring herself.
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Very raw, with frequent uses of "f--k," as well as "s--t," "bitch," "goddamn," "ass," "hell," and "oh my God."
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Products & Purchases
Some mentions of products in the context of dream sequences.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some references to drug abuse, though nothing is shown.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this powerful indie drama based on the novel Push by Sapphire is a harsh, raw depiction of a Harlem teen's brutal life that may be too intense for many viewers, even older teens. The main character is abused in every way imaginable (emotionally, physically, sexually) by those who ought to have her best interests at heart (including her parents) -- and yet she persists, rising above her circumstances. The language is coarse throughout the movie, there are many scenes of household violence (slapping, kicking, pushing, etc.), and sexual abuse abounds (a man is shown unbuckling his belt before he rapes his daughter). Still, it's ultimately a compelling, thought-provoking film that will stick with those mature enough to handle it. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
With its spectacularly brutal storyline, Precious is deeply compelling and disturbing at the same time. Director Lee Daniels goes for grit every chance he gets, with many sequences drained of color and light -- except for Precious' own flights of fancy, which provide much-needed escape from her own reality. The abuse -- verbal, physical, and sexual -- plays out in relentless assaults, allowing the audience to feel just a fraction of what it's like to be Precious. It all makes for a powerful film, but sometimes it's hard to stomach.
So thank heavens for Sidibe, who, in her first feature-film outing, doesn't so much dazzle as persuade. She becomes Precious. Same for comedienne Mo'Nique, who surprises here with her monstrous depiction of Precious' mother that manages -- a little, anyway -- to be tragic, too. And points to both Mariah Carey for her nuanced performance as a social worker and to Patton for providing uplift without treacle. Toward the end, the film feels a little message-y and hurried, but that's forgivable. Precious is riveting.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.