Movie review by
Jennifer Green, Common Sense Media
Safety Movie Poster Image
 Popular with kids
Emotional, intense, inspiring true tale of family, teamwork.
  • PG
  • 2020
  • 120 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 10 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Teammates and friends can be like family. It's OK to ask for help when you need it. It takes a village to raise a child. Sacrifice means trying your hardest, being selfless and committed. It's important to show people respect when they deserve it. Don't judge people without knowing their full stories. Poverty can affect children's emotional and academic wellbeing, something often seen in communities of color. Sometimes rules need to be flexible to take individual circumstances into account. Athletes can be excellent students.

Positive Role Models

Ray has earned a full college scholarship to play football, and he's intent on getting the most out of his academics as possible. But he's also willing to sacrifice all of it to help his school-aged brother when their mom ends up in prison and rehab. When Ray takes his brother in, his girlfriend, teammates, coaches, and others all get involved to help out, treating both Ray and his brother like family. Ray learns to accept help from others. The characters display the value of teamwork. Diverse characters.


Football players push and threaten each other in practices and games. Coaches impose physical punishments on athletes, like interminable sprints. Older athletes expect younger ones to do their bidding. Three intimidating men surround Ray and Fay at their father's apartment but do nothing. A child and mother are very upset when they're forced to separate.


Ray and Kaycee flirt and have a few dates, including one at Ray's apartment with Fay acting as waiter. Kaycee teaches Fay to dance, using Ray as the "girl." Fay and his female classmate dance at a school function, and she lays her head on his shoulder (prompting Ray and friends to cheer). A woman comes out of their father's bedroom buttoning up her shirt.


"Damn," "dope," "pee," "hell."


Clemson University, Nike, ESPN, Florida Atlantic University, Atlanta Braves, NCAA, Greyhound, Frosted Flakes, Wilson, VW. Ray and his brother notice the affluence around them at Clemson.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

College students drink out of red plastic cups at a party. Ray's mom is convicted on drug possession charges; after prison, she goes to rehab. This isn't her first time going through the process.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Safety handles mature topics, including drug addiction and unreliable parents, but is ultimately very inspiring and appropriate for older tweens. A mom with a substance dependency takes her kids' money and then spends time in prison and rehab. Her 11-year-old son, Fay (Thaddeus J. Mixson), ends up in foster care. Another mother and child are shown crying as they're torn apart by a foster-care representative. When Fay's older brother, Ray (Jay Reeves), takes him in, he discovers how hard things have been for Fay and that he's years behind in school. The film shows the devastating impact of poverty and drugs, and there's some emotional intensity, including scenes where Ray loses his temper with Fay or when their mother breaks down in tears. Ray, a talented college athlete, wants to step up to give Fay a home and become the role model his brother needs, but he puts his own future on the line to do so. His coaches, teammates, girlfriend, and community help him, showing the value of teamwork and the joy and loyalty of friendship. Language includes "damn," "dope," "pee," and "hell"; violence is mostly limited to the football field. College students drink out of red plastic cups at a party.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byDsandgsand December 11, 2020

This movie was amazing!

I’d say it was fantastic inspiring as it brought to life the daily struggles and adversity high level D1 athletes face and juggle on a daily. Definitely would r... Continue reading
Adult Written by23Mom December 30, 2020

Inspiring and humbling

We watched “Safety” as a family (parents, 13 year-old and 10 year-old) and each of us LOVED it. Inspiring, humbling, emotional, empathy-evoking. So well-cast... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byabhiramakella June 15, 2021
Teen, 14 years old Written bymovie.lover.18 May 17, 2021

Very eye-opening in a good way!

This movie is absolutely wonderful and is an eye-opener in showing the hardships of having your parents on the wrong track. There is violence unless you count f... Continue reading

What's the story?

In SAFETY, Ray (Jay Reeves) is a dedicated student and athlete who faced challenges while growing up -- a mom with a drug dependency, a dad who wasn't around -- but went on to earn a university scholarship. Already overwhelmed buy the demands of college life, including a full class load, punishing football practices, and a potential love interest (Corinne Foxx), Ray then finds out that his 11-year-old brother, Fahmarr, who goes by Fay (Thaddeus J. Mixson), is hanging out with drug dealers. Ray rushes home, where he discovers that his mother, Tonya (Amanda Warren), is in prison for drug possession and that Fay needs a caregiver. Ray sneaks Fay into his dorm room and plans to hide him there for a month until Tonya is released. But his plans are foiled when Fay is discovered, and Ray is called out for breaking campus rules, jeopardizing his position on the team -- and thus his scholarship. When Tonya gets a spot in a rehab center, Ray realizes that Fay will need longer-term care. To manage that, Ray is going to need a lot of assistance himself.

Is it any good?

Though this biopic gets off to a slightly uneven start, it gathers pace and emotion quickly and is ultimately an inspiring story with wide appeal. The opening introduces Ray -- and viewers -- to college life and the cutthroat climate of university athletics. There's a somewhat perfunctory TV-movie-ness to that opening act, and some of the early scenes also feel clipped unnecessarily, as if the director was trying to squeeze too much in and still hit the two-hour mark. Since it's a Disney film, Safety also depicts the tough culture of football with no heavy swearing -- and a budding college romance without a single kiss.

Things definitely pick up when Ray takes in little brother Fay. Mixson plays Fay with a winning combination of fragility and confidence, offering a great counterpart to Reeves and Foxx's solid performances. Fay's story is also smartly developed in tandem to Ray's with character-specific scenes. When the film pivots away from football and college and toward the story of the two brothers, and especially Fay, it transforms into a stirring tale of family, fatherhood, teamwork, and overcoming significant challenges.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the circumstances of Ray and Fay's childhood in Safety. How does the movie portray the impact of poverty and drugs

  • How do the characters demonstrate teamwork and loyalty? How does teamwork benefit individuals?

  • There's one scene during a football game where the camera is inside Ray's helmet, and we can hear his breathing. What effect did this camera placement have for you as a viewer?

  • This film is based on a true story. How accurate do you think it is? Why might filmmakers change the facts in a movie based on real life? Where could you go to find more information about the real brothers?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love football

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