Parents' Guide to

The Book of Clarence

By Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Ambitious, violent biblical satire about faith and race.

Movie PG-13 2024 129 minutes
The Book of Clarence Movie Poster: Clarence (LaKeith Stanfield) sits at the center of a long table, with several characters on either side of him, suggesting a variation on The Last Supper.

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 14+

I had to be protective over this movie!

I had never heard this movie up till the point I saw it was coming to my theater. I decided to check out the trailer, and weirdly enough, the trailer had a good marketing catch to the point that I resaw the trailer a few more times and I actually got hyped. I convinced my dad to go see this with me, but little did we know what we were getting into! Because I've never in my life been so protective when watching a movie, and this is the person who will see anything and have seen a lot of shit happening in movies. This played a lot in the Christian religion, but not in the right ways. See, I'm a Christian, and I can tolerate a lot of stuff in movies, but this I couldn't! This movie made me almost walk out (even my dad said we should have within 20 minutes of the movie) because it made me uncomfortable to watch and it really leaned heavily on my faith in the wrong way, something I'm actually protective about. So when the last 20 minutes of the movie rolled by, I literally felt "wrong" watching the movie. It felt like too much of Christ-like characteristic and actions that it bothered me a lot for the last 20 minutes. I was tolerating this movie, but the last 20 minute was just not for me to see. I said to my dad that if this movie was everything minus the 12 apostles and Jesus, I think this movie would have been better, but it leaned heavily into the Christian belief in a way I was uncomfortable of watching and being very protective of myself. Honestly, I would be lying if I said I got interested throughout the film, but it just leans too heavily on my belief in not the right ways that I just can't with this movie. What could have been potentially a good movie turned into a movie I question myself if it was even "right" for me to watch!

age 14+

Monte Python's The Chosen

I'm giving this 3- 4 stars, but some will give it 2 and I understand why. Imagine a Dallas Jenkins film ( the Chosen) co-written by a black comedian, with the humor of Monty Python but a crucifixion scene like The Passion of the Christ. So this is a strange movie that will offend many viewers. But there are redeeming qualities, partly because it's strangeness is also intriguing, and it asks some crucial questions: Do we believe? Did Jesus truly rise from the dead? Many viewers will find this movie highly sacrilegious, but it is actually a biblical epic with anachronistic dialogue and a sly sense of humor. The main character Clarence, a Hebrew who becomes a false messiah. He is one of the “homies” who lived in the same hood as Jesus and is a poser and manipulator. But true belief often comes from doubt, and this is what happens to Clarence. There are questions raised about "caste" and race. Our current racial tensions are obvious when the movie shows white Romans treating Black Judeans with bigotry. Clarence begins with the motto: “Knowledge is stronger than belief, and I possess the knowledge that there is no god…those who claim that there is a god are either “liars or fools.” When Clarence decides to pose as a messiah he goes to Jesus’ mother, Mary, to get advice. " How does Jesus perform his “tricks."? Mary’s replies: “My Son has never performed a trick in His life”. “This is the story you’re going with?” Clarence asks sarcastically. “ ITS THE ONLY STORY THERE IS ” she replies. Another false messiah is played by Benedict Cumberbach. When he encounters Jesus, he undergoes a total metamorphosis into a prototypical white Jesus with hilarious results. But the best parts of the movie are the scenes with Jesus himself. We see him intermittently throughout the movie doing miracles, and he’s accurately portrayed as loving and merciful. But many viewers should just stick with " The Chosen" ( which is truly wonderful).

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (2 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

Jeymes Samuel's second feature is a king-sized biblical epic, a wickedly funny comedy, and a bold examination of race and faith. And even if it doesn't always find balance, it's often electrifying. The Book of Clarence is broken up into three parts, or "Books," with the title of each designed to look like a 1950s-'60s biblical epic (The Ten Commandments, Ben-Hur, Spartacus, etc.). The first two parts are hilarious and energetic, finding ways to slip modern cadences into the world of 33 A.D. Jerusalem, as well as some eye-opening camerawork and unusual effects, such as characters floating, carefree, after smoking from a hookah. (Samuel's anachronistic soundtrack is full of original hip-hop, funk, and disco tunes, too.)

The dialogue offers a lively discourse on faith and logic, and Stanfield, with his vulnerable face, his cool swagger, and his unfailing comic timing, makes a commanding "messiah." Taken along with the fact that he also plays his own twin brother, it's a fantastic performance. But the movie's third book changes everything. It drops the humor almost entirely and leans into faith and genuine miracles—but it also looks into concepts of perception and storytelling that bear continued pondering. The Book of Clarence is unwieldy and sometimes perplexing, but it's also ambitious, audacious, and worth celebrating.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: January 12, 2024
  • On DVD or streaming: February 6, 2024
  • Cast: LaKeith Stanfield , Omar Sy , Anna Diop
  • Director: Jeymes Samuel
  • Inclusion Information: Black directors, Black actors, Female actors, Black writers
  • Studios: TriStar Pictures , Sony Pictures Releasing
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Run time: 129 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG-13
  • MPAA explanation: strong violence, drug use, strong language, some suggestive material, and smoking
  • Last updated: February 5, 2024

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