A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Encourages compassion, empathy, perseverance. Promotes accepting people for who they are, loving your children unconditionally. Highlights positive (and negative) aspects of being in the military but shows how being accountable for the safety of the person next to you can be a powerful feeling. Also depicts how homophobia can destroy relationships, nearly ruin lives, and morally compromise those who perpetuate homophobia.
Positive Role Models
Ellis bravely enlists in the Marines and endures homophobia and anger of other recruits and his commanding officer. He doesn't give up on his mom, even though she seems to have given up on him. Rosales looks out for Ellis, helps him when others are cruel. But Sgt. Laws has no problem with physical violence to punish Ellis for being gay, and Ellis' mother is homophobic and makes it clear that she'll only love him if he renounces who he is.
Uncommon, positive representation of an intersectional protagonist who's Black, gay, and in the military (he's authentically played by Jeremy Pope, who is also Black and gay). His identity is a large part of the story. Male-dominated story includes one pivotal woman character who's Black but anti-gay. Writer-director Elegance Bratton based the story on his own lived experiences.
Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.
Violence & Scariness
Basic training includes scenes of violence against Ellis: People beat him bloody in the bathroom, and someone nearly drowns him on purpose, keeping him underwater so long that he needs to be resuscitated. A recruit is ordered to shoot his weapon right at Ellis but refuses.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Ellis fantasizes about sexual acts with one of the drill instructors and inconveniently gets aroused in a group shower (bare buttocks are visible). He purposely showers at the same time as someone else as a proposition but is turned down. Men are shown shirtless or showering/changing, but those shots aren't necessarily sexual in nature. A commanding officer plays what they think will be a war movie but is actually a pornographic film. Characters look at nude photos and are heard moaning under their blankets, masturbating after lights out.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Strong language throughout includes "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "a--hole," "p---y," "d--k," "ass," and "bitch," and homophobic slurs "f-g," "f--got," and more.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults briefly shown drinking.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that writer-director Elegance Bratton based The Inspection on his own experiences in the U.S. Marines. The movie follows how, at age 25, Ellis (the authentically cast Jeremy Pope), disowned by his mother for being gay, decides to enlist in the military in hopes of gaining her approval and finding direction. There are several scenes of violence, many directed at Ellis after he's outed. He's beaten, injured, nearly used for target practice, and even purposely almost drowned by fellow recruits and commanding officers. Language is also strong, with several uses of "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," and homophobic slurs like "f-g" and "f--got." In a few scenes, Ellis fantasizes about a drill instructor and, in one moment, thinks about the naked men in the shower. The recruits watch a pornographic film together and are shown under their blankets moaning after lights out. The movie prompts discussions about homophobia, both in general and in the military specifically, unsupportive parents, and the intersectionality of race, sexual orientation, and class. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Moonlight meets the first act of Full Metal Jacket in this powerful autobiographical drama. But although Ellis' identity as a young gay man is central to the story, this isn't really a coming out story (he came out years earlier, which led to Inez disowning him). Rather, it's a highly individual story about a young man who must face homophobia in the military. Pope gives a quiet, intense performance as the vulnerable Ellis, who seems even younger than the 25 he's portraying. The entire cast is terrific, with Union utterly mesmerizing as a frosty mother who can't accept the fact that she raised a gay son. Woodbine -- who continues to look and sound like Dave Chappelle's doppelgänger -- channels R. Lee Emery's energy as the loud, intimidating drill instructor who'd like nothing more than to scare Ellis into quitting (or failing) basic training. Castillo stands out as well for the opposite reason; his Rosales shows more empathetic concern than cruelty, and his attention and encouragement make a huge impact on Ellis (and viewers).
Bratton isn't heavy handed or overly preachy with his characters -- even the ones who say and do hurtful and harmful things are humanized. The director doesn't vilify the entire military for the homophobia he faced, and he certainly doesn't cover up the fact that his younger self was flawed, troubled, and desperate for unconditional love -- or, at the very least, friendship and acceptance. There's a real sense that Ellis -- and, presumably, Bratton -- internalizes the importance of belonging to a group that can provide shelter and community, whether that's the military or a found family. And his infatuation with Rosales is handled nicely, with the latter embodying a hopefulness that Ellis needs to keep going. The Inspection isn't always an easy movie to watch; the anger and homophobia that Ellis face are nearly insurmountable. But the hardest bits aren't the scenes of physical abuse -- no, they're the heartbreaking moments between Ellis and Inez. Every conversation is fraught, and many viewers will want to scream at her to just love and embrace her son. But instead it's Ellis who loves unconditionally, ready and willing to accept his mother's affection whenever and however she's ready to give it.
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.
Suggest an Update
Our Editors Recommend
Movies with LGBTQ+ Characters
Great Movies with Black Characters
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate