Parents' Guide to

The Black Godfather

By Brian Costello, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Excellent docu on showbiz legend, lots of cursing.

Movie NR 2019 118 minutes
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It's nearly impossible to chronicle succinctly everything Clarence Avant has done and all the people he has helped over his decades-long career as a music executive. If the stories and anecdotes weren't so good, and if the performers, athletes, politicians, and activists Avant has helped over the years hadn't been so legendary, The Black Godfather would come across as nearly two hours of redundant tales that belabor the point of Avant's role as a behind-the-scenes mover and shaker. But when the stories involve people like Barack Obama, Muhammad Ali, Quincy Jones, Bill Withers, Janet Jackson, Sixto Rodriguez, and Hank Aaron, the sheer scope of Avant's influence is profoundly impressive.

Somehow, this documentary manages to convey Avant's massive influence on so many careers over so many years, and any response of "OK, we get it, Avant is a big deal" is countered with just how much of a big deal he was. And the love so many of these luminaries clearly have for Avant shines through as they imitate Avant's gruff manner, and how they considered it a badge of honor to have been cursed out by Avant when Avant thought they were making a mistake in their lives or careers. In a way, it's a documentary reminiscent of 2013's Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon as both men seem to be universally beloved in show business but still manage to be the person working on behalf of so many legendary entertainers while attaining success that most people only dream about.

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