A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Strong messages about community, activism, family strength, courage, compassion, redemption, being proud of who you are. Promotes importance of open communication between kids/parents and teens/friends, of police engaging with community without racism, prejudice. Clear messages about standing up for those who can't, speaking out against injustice, being mindful of assumptions we make about others. Addresses problems inherent in well-intentioned people's claim that they "don't see race."
Positive Role Models
Starr is intelligent, caring, kind. She's surrounded by many positive adult role models. Lisa and Maverick have a strong, loving marriage, treat their children with love and respect, encouraging them to be their best selves. Carlos is an involved uncle and good example of police officer who understands complexities of law enforcement-community issues. Chris is an understanding, supportive boyfriend. Hailey's friendship proves problematic. Khalil has made some iffy choices but is clearly well intentioned. King is manipulative, intimidating (but he's also clearly a bad guy).
Violence & Scariness
Someone pulls a gun at a party; shots send everyone fleeing. A police officer fatally shoots an unarmed teen; some blood seen. Nightmare about the incident. Upsetting flashback: a child being killed during drive-by shooting. Starr is so nervous, grief-stricken, disturbed that she throws up. King and his cronies have guns, make both veiled and open threats; one of his lackeys sets a store on fire when people are inside. Shots are fired at a family's home (they dive for cover). Seven is beaten; his injuries look painful. Tear gas is released at a protest; police clash with protesters; some destruction/rioting. Very tense scene with someone pointing a gun at sympathetic characters and child pulling out a gun. Scuffle outside restaurant leads to confrontation with police. A teen girl rages at another.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Kissing. Mention of a boyfriend who bought a condom (assuming his girlfriend would want to have sex), discussion of teen pregnancy and out-of-wedlock pregnancy, more. Starr is in no hurry to have sex.
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Several uses of "s--t" as well as one "f--k" and other words including "bitch," "ho," "ass," "damn," "badass," "hell," "butt," "piss," "suck," and "oh my God."
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Products & Purchases
Brands seen/mentioned include Nike sneakers and other gear, Beats headphones, iPhone, Mac computer, Lego, Under Armour, BMW, Harry Potter, Chevy Suburban, Mercedes, Range Rover, Coca-Cola, Sprite, Cheetos, Toyota Camry, Tumblr, Lyft.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens drink at a house party; Starr takes one sip but doesn't like it. Adults drink beer. Several conversations about drug dealing. Smoking by non-central characters.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Hate U Give is based on Angie Thomas' award-winning book about Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg), a black teen who witnesses the fatal police shooting of a close friend. Like the acclaimed novel, the movie deals frankly and powerfully with race and racism. It also addresses the tension between the police and the communities they're supposed to serve and protect and the differences between teens growing up in predominantly African American neighborhoods and those from affluent white neighborhoods. Moments of violence are realistic and often upsetting: A cop shoots an unarmed teen (some blood is shown), gunshots break out at a party, characters brandish and fire guns and get into a tense confrontation with the police, tear gas is deployed during a peaceful protest, two classmates push each other, a stepfather beats his stepson, a store is set on fire with people inside, and more. Language isn't constant but includes one "f--k," a few uses of "s--t," etc. Teens talk about sex, but no more than kissing is shown; there's also a little bit of drinking by both teens and adults, smoking by minor characters, and discussion of drug dealing. Families who watch will have plenty of big issues to discuss afterward; hopefully teens will also appreciate the movie's messages about standing up for what you believe in, being proud of who you are, and communicating honestly with your parents and friends. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Propelled by Stenberg's performance and an excellent cast, this is one of the rare adaptations that does right by its source material, offering a powerful exploration of race, racism, and activism. Working from an adapted screenplay by Audrey Wells, director George Tillman Jr. captures the spirit of Thomas' break-out novel, giving readers and viewers a lot to unpack. The movie opens with Starr's father, Maverick (Russell Hornsby), giving his kids "the talk" -- not about sex but about how to act when they're around police. One of the best aspects of the movie is how supportive and loving the Carter family is: Maverick, who owns the local grocery; mom Lisa (Regina Hall), a nurse at a local clinic; Starr; and her brothers Seven (Lamar Johnson) and Sekani (T.J. Wright) are a tight unit. Starr's beloved uncle Carlos (Common) is a police officer who moved out of Garden Heights, adding layers of complexity to the situation. Rounding out the fabulous cast are Issa Rae as a lawyer/social justice activist and Anthony Mackie as the boss of a Garden Heights gang who has a history with Maverick. There's not a false note among the cast, and Hornsby and Hall are particularly effective as Starr's parents.
So many young adult adaptations fall short of expectations, but this one is up there with The Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Fault in Our Stars. It's an ideal movie to see with teens -- nothing is too cringeworthy for parents to handle while sitting next to their kids -- and then talk about candidly afterward. You can discuss everything from what to do when a party gets dangerous to how to deal with a fair-weather friend to even bigger, more troubling issues of institutional racism, the tension between police and the communities they're charged to serve, and how class and privilege affect the way we see law enforcement and race in America. Because it's so thought-provoking, The Hate U Give isn't the sort of escapist teen flick that helps you get away from the news cycle. This movie, like the book that inspired it, is about more than a police shooting; it's about speaking out against injustice; healing wounds; the importance of family, finding true friends, and uniting communities; and, for parents, supporting kids as they find their voice.
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