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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Success isn't won, it's earned through hard work and perseverance. Together, women can help each other's dreams come true. Telling the truth is important. The music industry can be very challenging for women.
Positive Role Models
Maggie works very hard to break into a male-dominated profession; she's passionate, creative, confident in her opinions and abilities, even though she takes some risks and makes mistakes. Grace can be selfish and cutting but also recognizes and values talent and loyalty and is very aware of her status as an example of lasting Black female success. All of the film's Black characters are confident and successful. Cast and crew are largely female and/or Black.
Violence & Scariness
Yelling/arguing; cruel remarks.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Kissing. A couple implications of sex, including one shot in which a couple is seen snuggling in their underwear.
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Strong language includes: "ass," "booby," "bulls--t," "damn," "d--k," "douche bag," "dumbass," "hell," "goddamn," "pissed," "screw you," "s--t," and "son of a bitch."
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Products & Purchases
Grace lives a posh life, which she boasts about and other characters covet; she has designer clothes/accessories, a luxury sports car, and a private jet. Specific labels/brands seen or mentioned include Dior, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Rolls-Royce.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Party scene and other instances of social drinking. In one scene, a character is drunk but responsibly calls for a ride home. A couple mentions of drugs, but not in context of any characters using.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The High Note is an appealing musical drama about the complex relationship between aging superstar singer Grace Davis (Tracee Ellis Ross) and her ambitious personal assistant, Maggie (Dakota Johnson). A romantic subplot includes implied sex, but no more than kissing/snuggling in underwear is shown. Characters drink in social situations, and one gets comically drunk (she calls someone else to drive her home). Strong language isn't particularly frequent but includes "s--t," "d--k," and more. Grace's high-end life is full of designer labels, including Dior, Louis Vuitton, and others. Maggie dreams of being a music producer -- a profession that still has shockingly few women -- and the film doesn't shy away from the challenges that women face in the music industry, including ageism and sexism (and, in Maggie's case, a really demanding boss). But there are also strong messages about perseverance, loyalty, and female empowerment. Overall, this is a great choice for families with teens. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This may be the story of a rock star, but director Nisha Ganatra orchestrates her film as if it's a symphony. Peeking inside a musician's life has always fascinated moviegoers, whether it's the megawatt rise of A Star Is Born, the excesses of Get Him to the Greek, or the ridiculousness of This Is Spinal Tap. With The High Note, we get a funny but personal look at how a well-respected legend navigates keeping public opinion high and money flowing, even when some clearly consider her past her prime. Grace's struggles are seen through Maggie's eyes. Not only Grace's assistant but also a lifelong admirer, Maggie -- like so many aspiring people in entertainment -- is trying to figure out how to get to the next rung in her career ladder while keeping hold of the coattails of someone more successful. The film reeks of authenticity, which is solidified by casting Ross and Ice Cube (as Grace's manager, Jack): These two hold true knowledge of the music industry and real power in the entertainment community. It's hard to believe they'd allow the film to go off-key.
Known mostly for hitting it out of the park on TV (black-ish), this performance makes it clear that it's time to see Ross as a movie star. Sure, as the daughter of Diana Ross and music manager Bob Ellis, she's been training to play a diva her entire life. But what's really striking is that while she nails every line, every look, and every gesture, she is in no way doing an impression of her mother -- or of any other diva. Grace Davis is a complete original, and yet she's familiar. Kelvin Harrison, Jr. continues to show off his versatility -- it's hard to believe an actor so young already has such a wide range, and now he proves that he can sing, too. The High Note is the first piece of produced work for screenwriter Flora Greeson, and it proves that she's one to watch. Some of the characters' choices may make viewers want to plug their ears, but that makes the film an even better choice for families with teens, who can discuss: Were the characters' choices realistic, honest, or relatable?
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