A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
An accurate account of segregation and racial animosity in the late '30s. Loyalty is portrayed as a noble ideal. The sexual proclivities of the players are depicted with a "boys will be boys" attitude. One player hires a prostitute. Though the movie handles race issues responsibly, parents should be aware that strong racial epithets are used, often by the black players themselves.
Violence & Scariness
Minor fistfights. A player is slashed with a razor blade off-screen.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Several of the ballplayers are seen in bed with women, but little is actually shown.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The players smoke, drink, and carouse.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this overlooked movies of the '70s has great baseball sequences and a festive attitude. But it is less than admirable in the way it treats women, who are portrayed as objects of sexual conquest. Older kids will be entertained, but parents should determine if the material is appropriate for their child, given the sex, drinking and mature themes involved. Teens will like the players' antics and find the historical content interesting. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Billy Dee Williams is particularly good as a showman with the heart of a unionist who believes workers should seize the means of production and share profits. James Earl Jones is also rock-solid as the group's moral conscience, and Richard Pryor is hilarious as a black man masquerading as a "Cuban" (later a Native American) so he can make it into the white leagues -- and with white women.
Of course, a story about the Negro National League must confront the issue of race. The movie uses a light touch. For example, there are vast differences in the pre-game festivities of a black crowd and the more formal good-time efforts of the white folks. The film also captures the changing face of baseball. Bingo knows that the Negro National League --and his career in baseball -- is coming to an end. Though change is bittersweet, Bingo and Leon manage to find humor in it.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.