Talk to Me

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
Talk to Me Movie Poster Image
Cheadle shines in radio icon biopic. Not for kids.
  • R
  • 2007
  • 118 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Petey is rude and crude, drinks and smokes to excess, and repeatedly resists authority (even claiming to have stolen silverware fro the White House); still, he embodies a moral code, speaking truth to power.


A fight in the office includes punching; report of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination leads to riots in D.C. streets (fires, looting, car explosion).


Vernell repeatedly wears short, cleavage-enhancing outfits (she calls it "Foxy-ed up," as in the movie character Foxy Brown); she visits Petey in prison in the "booty line," removes her bra from beneath her shirt and hands it to Dewey in public, and engages in deep kissing in public places. Sexual language includes repeated uses of "d--k," "pimp," and other phrases ("What you got in your boxers?"). A naked man appears on the prison rooftop (not explicit, but plain enough). Vernell catches Petey having sex with another woman (naked buttocks visible) and gets very upset, revealing a sexual liaison with Petey's coworker (it takes place off-screen, but she flaunts it).


Frequent and varied language, including "f--k" (at least 35 times, sometimes with "mother-"), "damn," "s--t" (25+), "ass," "b--ch," "hell," "p--sy," as well as repeated uses of the n-word (at least 25 times) and a string of anti-white slang ("honky," "ofay," "peckerwood," "cracker").


References to and images of popular figures of the day, including Foxy Brown, Berry Gordy, James Brown, Michael Jackson, Sam Cooke, Bette Midler, Johnny Carson, "Mr. Tibbs" (from In the Heat of the Night), etc.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Frequent cigarette smoking and drinking (in bar scenes and elsewhere); Petey appears staggering drunk at a concert he's meant to emcee (he vomits) and is also drunk for his appearance on The Tonight Show; allusions to drug abuse; Petey looks ill at the end, coughing harshly (apparently the result of his many years abusing drugs, liquor, and cigarettes).

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this biopic about controversial '60s radio host Petey Greene isn't for kids. Though Greene is often very funny, the film focuses on the sources of his comedy: his anger at oppressive systems of class and racism. Expect lots of sexual references and sexy outfits (a couple of scenes, while not explicit, also show some lively writhing). A fight (punching and falling) between rivals ends when Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination is announced; a brief sequence following shows street rioting (looting, flames, explosion). Language is super spicy and includes lots of uses of both "f--k" and the "N" word (spoken by African-American characters).

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byGail O. December 6, 2016
Adult Written byRobo yankee April 9, 2008

NOT FOR young kids

sexual content is explicit

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What's the story?

TALK TO ME chronicles the career of controversial Washington, D.C., radio personality Petey Greene (Don Cheadle), an ex-convict who described himself as "a 'N'-word in America telling it like it is, telling the truth." From prison, Petey convinces station manager Dewey Hughes (Chiwetel Ejiofor) to hire him as a DJ. Petey arrives at the radio station determined to prove himself. Though Dewey's boss (Martin Sheen) has doubts, Petey draws listeners, uniting the community and becoming a local hero. At the same time, Petey's personal life suffers from his excessive use of alcohol and drug. Though Dewey encourages him to greater and greater visibility, Petey rejects going mainstream because he sees constraints in performing to audiences outside his community. At last he has a profound moment, seeing before him an expectant "room full of white folks" who want to see him make fun of his background. He makes a fateful decision that the film represents as a mixture of disappointment and resistance.

Is it any good?

Kasi Lemmons's smart, enthralling TALK TO ME shows that Greene was at once inspired and troubled, ambitious and self-destructive. Greene makes his difficult decision in a what is a fittingly complicated scene that showcases both Greene's and Cheadle's brilliance.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the accuracy of biopics. Do you think movies based on true stories (particularly one person's life) generally stick to the facts? Why would filmmakers change details? How could you find out what really happened and what might have been exaggerated? Families can also discuss what Petey's commentary has in common with the later humor of comics like Richard Pryor and Dave Chappelle. What function does envelope-pushing "shock" comedy serve in society?

Movie details

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