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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Even if following your passion doesn't pay off financially, it still offers worthwhile emotional dividends. Failing to protect children from sexual predators can lead to deep, lasting damage.
Positive Role Models
Montgomery shows great inner strength. Sexually abused as a child by her mother's boyfriend, Montgomery recounts that she was told to hide her emotions and that if she cried, she was weak. Now she frankly spills her emotions in her songs and confessionals on YouTube. Kutiman is a musician who uses and appreciates the work of other talented musicians.
Violence & Scariness
Montgomery describes being sexually abused as a child by her mother's boyfriend. When she tried to tell, her mother beat her. None of this is shown. Montgomery notes that men like her mother's boyfriend are looking past the mothers to their children, and then they "pick the weak ones." Tires are stolen from Montgomery's car.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Montgomery says she learned about sex early (in relation to being abused -- see "Violence" section), and she laments that no child should be forced to know about oral sex and penetration, as she was.
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Language includes uses of "f--k, "s--t," "hell," "damn," "ass," and the "N" word.
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Products & Purchases
Montgomery eats at Burger King. YouTube is heavily featured.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults smoke cigarettes, and it appears that some also smoke marijuana.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Presenting Princess Shaw -- a documentary that portrays the difficulty of overcoming childhood abuse and deprivation -- is both deeply sad and very uplifting. Samantha Montgomery, who channels her pain and disappointments into songs she writes and sings on YouTube, discusses being neglected as a child by her mother and sexually abused by her mother's boyfriend. Adults are shown smoking cigarettes and marijuana. Expect to hear "f--k," "s--t," "damn," "hell," and "ass," as well as the "N" word. Amid the film's edgier content is the message that you should follow your passions; it also raises important questions about the nature of creative ownership, especially when the internet is involved. The movie is also known by the title Thru You Princess. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
The filmmakers chose Montgomery wisely; the depth of her personal pain and the earnestness of her striving and optimism give this movie substance it might otherwise lack. According to Montgomery, director Ido Haar originally followed several of Kutiman's YouTube "collaborators," but slowly Presenting Princess Shaw whittled down to become a story about Montgomery, Kutiman, and their beautiful relationship. Kutiman deserves praise for, if nothing else, the joy he brought Montgomery by appreciating her art, by enhancing it, and by being inspired by it. This validation from another artist is what Montgomery -- poor, undereducated, and lonely -- craved her whole life. Watching the tears of joy she experiences after hearing Kutiman's version of her song for the first time is a singular moment that will touch most viewers and should be the kind of emotional truth that documentary makers aim to achieve.
But difficult questions are still raised. Kutiman neither pays nor asks the permission of his many "collaborators." This free use of artistic works uploaded to the internet expresses the philosophy of the free culture movement, which objects to stringent copyright laws and other exercises of ownership and financial control of art. Yet the irony is that, in some sense, Kutiman's efforts to use others' work and polish it into better, more marketable art makes him -- by force of his personality and drive -- exactly the kind of gatekeeper that many talented but financially naïve artists look for in the effort to promote their work. It's not that Kutiman exploits them financially. It's just that these are real people who are attached to the work he collects and uses, so you can't help but feel that they ought to be asked permission. On the positive side, in Montgomery's case, Kutiman's appreciation marked the first time she ever felt encouraged in her art by someone she respects. For that reason, it's hard not to love Kutiman for the hope and self-respect he gives her. The question the movie leaves unanswered is obvious: If there's a marketplace demand for their collaborations, will Montgomery make enough to quit her day job? The movie doesn't say, but in a subsequent interview, Montgomery does announce that she and Kutiman collaborated on an album that's nearing release.
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.
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Our Editors Recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate