A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Viewers' take on the movie's messages will vary depending on political affiliation. For those who share Souza's perspective, it offers a clear picture of what "empathy" is and argues that a true leader should have both humility and the confidence to listen to those who might disagree with you.
Positive Role Models
Barack Obama is portrayed as a great leader who responds to challenges with kindness, intelligence, empathy. Souza himself can be seen as an example of a form of resistance, using the tools he has at his disposal to stand up to hate, fear, ignorance, lies. Donald Trump and those who surround and support him are portrayed very negatively.
Violence & Scariness
The death and funeral of President Reagan are dealt with. The Sandy Hook massacre is discussed.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Brief kissing between adults.
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A protest sign briefly shows the word "f--k." The words "s--t," "ass," and "damn" are each spoken once.
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Products & Purchases
Flickr, Instagram, BlackBerry (electronic device) are mentioned.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Brief images of people drinking champagne.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Way I See It is a documentary about former White House photographer Pete Souza, who worked under presidents Reagan and Obama. The film looks at several iconic photos of both men and addresses the elements of good leadership. It also details Souza's outspoken opposition to Donald Trump. Language is the iffiest content, with one "f--k" shown printed on a protest sign and the words "s--t," "ass," and "damn" each spoken once. The Sandy Hook massacre and Reagan's death are discussed (with some non-graphic pictures shown). People with champagne are glimpsed in some photos, and couples kiss briefly. It could have gone deeper, but it's still a deeply emotional, hopeful movie (if you share Souza's perspective on both Obama and Trump) that showcases a collection of brilliant photos. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
It feels a bit thin and politically lopsided, but this film is still very much worth seeing for several reasons: its amazing photographs, Souza's humility, and its positive, hopeful vision. Directed by Dawn Porter, who also gave us the essential John Lewis: Good Trouble, The Way I See It certainly could have gone deeper. It's clearly partisan and likely not a timeless work; Souza -- and several other interviewees -- talk as often, or more often, about their opposition to Trump than about anything personal in Souza's life. His portraits of Reagan and Obama behaving in ways that are presented as presidential and professional are used to sharply contrast Trump's more haphazard, deceptive way of governing.
But what the movie lacks in personal details, it makes up for in Souza's up-front candidness. In talking about his life and his good fortune, he frequently chokes up and gets teary-eyed. A sequence in which Obama badgers Souza into marrying his longtime girlfriend will prompt huge smiles and require a few hankies. Souza wears his heart on his sleeve, and his deep love and respect for Obama and the office of the president come out clearly, just like his fury about Trump's behavior while in office. As a huge coffee-table book in motion, The Way I See It beautifully showcases Souza's best photos as he explains their origins. Their depictions of kindness, intelligence, and empathy offer hope that the White House could be like that again one day.
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.
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