Parents' Guide to

The Outside Story

By John Sooja, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Feel-good drama about Brooklyn community; language, drugs.

Movie NR 2021 85 minutes
The Outside Story Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

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Is It Any Good?

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It's definitely a feel-good movie, but The Outside Story fails to accurately represent a world, in this case, Brooklyn, New York. If this film were futuristic or clearly satirical, maybe its world would be believable. Thankfully, the characters are very believable, but the world they live in feels way too contrived, vanilla, tame, and just not the real world at all. Somehow, even though main character Charles is having the worst day, everyone he turns to for help, literally everyone, helps him. His upstairs neighbor who is about to play with his adult friends lets Charles interrupt them repeatedly (and it isn't for kicks), his landlord stops by to help before driving his mother to her appointment for her cataracts (and he was already driving her there!), a White middle schooler girl lets him (a Black man and a stranger) into her home, and police don't assault him when he's trying to break back into his own apartment. One police officer even buys Charles a sandwich and rips up a parking ticket she wrote him earlier.

Further, Charles witnesses two women finding out they each cheated on each other, and they both immediately forgive the other person, reconcile, and go about their way. It seems the only conflict or drama in the movie is in Charles (his own idleness, social anxiety, lack of ambition) and not between people. But this isn't realistic. The entire film feels idealistic and what some people might wish Brooklyn looked like. This is all unfortunate because the moment-to-moment writing is solid and the acting is wonderful (Brian Tyree Henry is excellent as ever). But it's difficult, maybe especially these days, to suspend disbelief to this extent. Aliens, time-travel, dinosaurs, superheroes, and impossible action sequences? Easy. But saccharine police and a quixotic Brooklyn? No way. Still, those who can look past the unrealistic views of Brooklyn will find much to enjoy.

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