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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The House I Live In presents some sobering and shocking facts about the United States' war on drugs. Calling attention to these ideas raises hope that we can make changes, and the movie encourages viewers to join the struggle.
Positive Role Models
Though the movie paints a mostly negative picture, many of the participants are activists who believe that change is possible.
Violence & Scariness
The movie makes reference to the Holocaust and shows the depressing interiors of prisons. Some footage of cops arresting drug "offenders." Very little actual violence is shown, but the overall tone is one of oppression.
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Language is infrequent but includes a few uses of "f--k," "s--t," "a--holes," "butt," and "genitals."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Though The House I Live In talks heavily about drugs, it isn't actually about drug addiction and only has a few fleeting glimpses of people using drugs (mainly in photographs and archival footage). The movie certainly doesn't encourage using drugs, but it mentions many drugs by name and often shows images of them: pot, cocaine, crack, meth, etc.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The House I Live In is a documentary about the War on Drugs and the enormous toll it's taken on the United States. The film makes the shocking argument that the War on Drugs has turned into a profitable industry -- i.e., building new prisons and hiring guards and police; it also suggests some parallels between the War on Drugs and elements of the Holocaust. It's heavy stuff, but the tone is thoughtful and proactive, and many activists have begun working to turn things around -- and the movie encourages viewers to join the fight. There's some strong language, with a few uses of "f--k" and "s--t." Hard drugs are discussed at length and shown, though images of people actually using are only seen fleetingly in photographs and archival footage. The movie's content is impactful enough and responsible enough that older teens could handle it -- and in fact, should be encouraged to see it. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Eugene Jarecki -- brother of filmmakers Andrew (Capturing the Friedmans) and Nicholas (Arbitrage) -- goes about his bold documentary in just the right way. He begins it with a personal touch. Nannie Jeter's (that's her real name) responses inspire Jarecki to look further into the history of the War on Drugs and its long-term damaging effects on the United States.
From there, driven by a personal impetus, THE HOUSE I LIVE IN turns into taut journalism, building its thesis as new ideas are discovered, and escalating the scale of its storytelling by leaps and bounds. Each new idea comes with a maximum amount of shock and punch, but, happily, the movie's thoughtful approach takes it out of the realm of "outrage docs." It never seems angry; rather, the tone is contemplative, regretful, and proactive. It does lazily rely on a few standard documentary-style choices here and there, but these don't detract from the powerful whole.
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.