Parents' Guide to

Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia

By Jennifer Green, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Biopic has positive messages, some violence.

Movie NR 2021 106 minutes
Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 12+


The acting was subpar.
age 11+


Beautiful movie that I learned from about a black girl who had to break in to music industry and create an entire genre of gospel.Her beautiful voice that God gave her and her Faith made her a person to admire regardless of her race.Wonderful story!

This title has:

Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (2):
Kids say: Not yet rated

This made-for-TV biopic might have worked better as a mini-series, considering the vast life experience and historical significance of its subject, Mahalia Jackson, magnificently embodied by Brooks. Instead, and even at 106 minutes, the movie has to make a few awkward cuts to get through the extraordinary life of the title character of Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia. The script uses dialogues to fill in some biographical details, and these can come across as gratuitous. It also tries to bring the story to too neat a close by repeating themes from the opening act. Some attention-grabbing scenes blend archive footage of historical events with filmed footage of the actors, switching conspicuously between black-and-white and color.

But what's most important here is how much this film will signify for fans of the legendary Mahalia, as well as those directly or indirectly influenced by her work, her transmission of faith, her contribution to the Civil Rights Movement, or her lived early- and mid-century experience of racial segregation in the South and wild professional success in the North and abroad. Some depictions of the treatment of Blacks in the South in this period are an essential but no less painful reminder of this country's recent history. It's almost shocking this film hasn't been made before, but that might be because Brooks wasn't available. Rare is the actress who could so fully embody the gospel legend in form and function. Not only is Brooks made to resemble Mahalia, but in interviews she has said she sang 85 percent of the film live. The many scenes of Brooks as Mahalia feeling the spirit while singing her heart out are unquestionably the highlight of this movie.

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