A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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).
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?
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?
- In theaters: July 12, 2007
- On DVD or streaming: October 30, 2007
- Cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Don Cheadle, Taraji P. Henson
- Director: Kasi Lemmons
- Studio: Focus Features
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 118 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: pervasive language and some sexual content.
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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