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Parents' Guide to

Street Fighting Men

By Brian Costello, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Powerful docu on three Detroit men; some cursing, violence.

Movie NR 2017 101 minutes
Street Fighting Men Poster Image

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What's immediately striking about this documentary is the way in which the information is presented. There isn't much in the way of backstory to the setting, as it's almost a foregone conclusion now that Detroit has been in a desperate struggle for survival for several decades now. And yet, resiliency and hard work are qualities that have also come to define Detroit, and these aspects to Detroit's civic character are also on full display. That's certainly not to say that this is a Chamber of Commerce production by any stretch, because this resiliency and belief that hard work will improve one's lot in life are constantly being tested to the breaking point in this unsparing portrait of communities long past the point of crisis.

At a time when so many are grappling with how we got to this point in America where systemic racism is as ugly and entrenched as it has ever been, Street Fighting Men offers no easy answers. As the "American Dream" seems to be failing the people of these communities as much as the institutions around them, the viewer is left to ponder a question posed by a woman who narrowly avoids getting killed while gunfire resulted in several holes in her house and a bullet hole in her pillow inches from where she slept: "How do we storm the Bastille?" The question seems prophetic now that cities all over America are rising up in the wake of the police murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, among so many other people of color, and one of the biggest takeaways in this excellent documentary is how basic day-to-day survival, let alone revolution, is often a hard-fought victory in and of itself.

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