Parents' Guide to


By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Disappointing gay-rights drama has sex, language, violence.

Movie R 2015 129 minutes
Stonewall Poster Image

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Aside from a couple of standout performances, director Roland Emmerich's movie's weak script and inaccurate elements make it a wholly disappointing look at a key moment in gay-rights history. Instead of focusing on the actual events (or individuals) leading up to the Stonewall riots -- or their political significance -- the movie oddly concentrates on Danny, a fictional, straight-seeming character who seems utterly confused about what it means to be gay or in the big city. Obviously he's meant to be the audience's introduction into the circle of gay street youths on Christopher Street, but it's his immediate bestie, Ray, who steals the show. Beauchamp's hustler is infinitely more compelling than bland Danny.

Good for Emmerich, the openly gay action/adventure specialist, for trying, but he's basically failed to create the kind of human-interest-meets-social-justice historical drama that made Selma, Milk, or even the indie British film Pride so memorable. Most audiences unfamiliar with the specifics of the Stonewall riots and what they meant to the LGBT community will likely be fooled into thinking that a corn-fed, college-bound white boy instigated the entire protest, or that the police were really trying to help. Rhys Meyers and Perlman look like they're having fun playing a serious activist and a villainous club owner, respectively, but they have little to do. This is Danny's film, and because of that, Stonewall is more of a coming-of-age and coming-out story than a thought-provoking look at the riots that sparked the beginning of the gay-rights movement.

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