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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Educational ValueThis is an exceedingly complex movie, as muddled as real life, but one of its strongest themes is that faith -- whether in God, or in other people, or in oneself -- can provide forgiveness and understanding. But another theme is that faith may only be possible through suffering.
Red Hook Summer is an exceedingly complex movie, as muddled as real life, but one of its strongest themes is that faith -- whether in God, in other people, or in yourself -- can provide forgiveness and understanding.
Positive Role Models
The main character, Flik, doesn't have a clear journey over the course of the film, but he makes a couple of small gestures toward the end that suggest that he's learned something about being a good person. Bishop Enoch Rouse is presented as a good person, but viewers learn that he has a dark and horrifying past that's difficult to forgive, even though he's worked very hard to heal himself and atone for his sins.
Violence & Scariness
The movie's most disturbing scene is a flashback of suggested sexual violence committed by a grown man upon a 12 year-old boy (a minor character); nothing is actually shown. In another scene, three street thugs beat up the bishop, with bleeding head wounds. Also many scenes of tense arguing and/or yelling. In one scene, an adult argues with a pre-teen boy and pushes him up against a door frame. A dead rat is shown.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
The term "sucking off" is used. Also some innuendo, such as mentions of girls getting pregnant.
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Language is fairly sparse until the final stretch, when "s--t" is used more than once, as well as "c--ksucker" and "motherf----r." One secondary character says the "N" word and "goddamn" several times. "Bastard" is heard once. "Butt" and "hell" are used many times.
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Products & Purchases
The main character carries an iPad everywhere, shoots videos on it, and mentions its name more than once. Facebook and Twitter are mentioned several times. Characters wear Nike shoes and clothes, and the logo is seen at least once. Tylenol is mentioned once.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A secondary character is shown to be a drunk, mixing wine with cola (he calls it "Jesus juice"), and drinking whisky. "Reefer" is mentioned.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that director Spike Lee's Brooklyn-set drama Red Hook Summer focuses on a 13-year-old boy, a neighborhood girl the same age, and his grandfather -- a bishop in a local church. As the movie reaches its final stretch, there's a subplot about child molesting; even though nothing is actually shown, it's very intense. Language also increases as the film goes along, moving from a few uses of "s--t" and the "N" word to harsher words like "c--ksucker" and "motherf----r." Other violence includes arguments and shouting and a scene of an adult pushing a boy up against a door frame. Sexual innuendo is mild and infrequent (mostly some talk about pregnant girls), but product placement is strong, with frequent use and mention of an Apple iPad in particular, plus some other products. Overall, Red Hook Summer is a film with complex messages that's clearly intended for more mature viewers. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Red Hook Summer is a strange, meandering, complex movie more along the lines of a minor movie like Lee's Crooklyn than one of his masterpieces. Director Spike Lee calls RED HOOK SUMMER the latest chapter in his "Chronicles of Brooklyn" series, and his famous Do the Right Thing character, pizza delivery man Mookie, makes a cameo appearance. There are no clear character arcs and no three-act dramatic structure, but the movie's messiness comes close to the rhythms of real life.
Lee conjures up a very definite mood, using color filters to emphasize yellows and underlining the New York heat. On the soundtrack, raw hymnals mix with the spare piano music of none other than pop star Bruce Hornsby. And the movie's climax comes as a huge shock after the relative gentleness of the first section. But overall it demonstrates that true faith may be the result of suffering (Flik hasn't known suffering and therefore hasn't needed religion) and that no religious experience comes without some wreckage.
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