A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that SuperFly is an uneven remake of the 1972 "blaxploitation" classic; both movies tell the story of a career drug dealer (Trevor Jackson) who's trying to get out and make a clean break. Lots of cocaine is shown, and characters occasionally snort it. There's also social smoking and drinking/getting drunk. Violence includes guns and shooting; several supporting/minor characters are shot and killed, and blood spurts are shown. Expect to see martial arts fighting, punching, and beating/bludgeoning, too, as well as a car chase and an explosion. The main character has two girlfriends (who know about each other), as do other characters; one scene shows a graphic threesome. Women are seen topless, and strip club costumes leave very little to the imagination. Language is extremely strong and frequent, with constant uses of "f--k," "motherf----r," the "N" word, "s--t," and more.
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What's the story?
In SUPERFLY, Youngblood Priest (Trevor Jackson) is a clever drug dealer whose street wisdom has kept his profile low -- and him out of jail. Then, outside a club one night, a drunk member of a crew known as Snow Patrol takes a shot at Priest, misses, and hits an innocent bystander. Unbeknownst to Priest, his longtime partner, Eddie (Jason Mitchell), orders a hit on Snow Patrol, which stirs up trouble. Priest decides that he needs to up his game, sell a lot of cocaine, make a ton of money, and get out of town with his two girlfriends, Georgia (Lex Scott Davis) and Cynthia (Andrea Londo). Priest asks his supplier, his former mentor, Scatter (Michael Kenneth Williams), for more product, but Scatter refuses. So Priest goes up the chain of command and speaks to dangerous drug lord Gonzales (Esai Morales). Unfortunately, Priest then finds himself locked into "the game" for life ... unless he sets into play one final, desperate plan.
Is it any good?
This remake of the 1972 blaxploitation classic is smoother, with a cool, subdued lead character and lean, strong scenes, but it's also frequently silly and eventually goes on too long. Director X (born Julien Christian Lutz) and screenwriter Alex Tse retain many of the character outlines from the original movie, but the story is now set in Atlanta rather than New York. Some of SuperFly feels updated with up-to-the-minute #BlackLivesMatter themes, such as when characters must deal with a demonic, blonde, blue-eyed cop. But other parts feel stuck in time, perhaps owing more to Brian De Palma's Scarface than to Gordon Parks Jr.'s original Super Fly.
The gorgeous costumes and hairstyles, as well as cars and clubs and homes, are given emphasis, along with the thumping music (which borrows two cuts from Curtis Mayfield's original 1972 soundtrack). The use of cocaine as the product of choice makes it feel more movie-ish than realistic, like it's a lost B movie from the 1980s that only turned up today. As the plot goes on, Director X admirably focuses on consequences of actions, but that also has the effect of slowing things down and making them feel too serious. The pacing begins to drag, and by the movie's tidy ending, this SuperFly no longer flies.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about SuperFly's violence. Are there consequences for violence in this movie? Are violent acts shown/perceived differently in the movie based on the race of the person committing them?
How is sex portrayed? What about gender roles? Are women treated fairly, or do they seem more like property here?
How does the remake compare with the original? What does the term "blaxploitation" mean? Do you consider this movie part of that genre?
Is the main character likable, despite being a drug dealer? If so, what's likable about him? What codes or beliefs does he have that are worthwhile?
- In theaters: June 13, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: September 11, 2018
- Cast: Trevor Jackson, Jason Mitchell, Lex Scott Davis
- Director: Director X
- Studio: Sony Pictures Entertainment
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 108 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: violence and language throughout, strong sexuality, nudity, and drug content
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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