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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Strong positive messages, especially that students, even those from poor neighborhoods, will excel if they're believed in and encouraged. Hard work, perseverance, and dedication are key to meeting high expectations. A teacher can motivate you for life. Art and music are powerful forces in the lives of young people.
Positive Role Models
Prof is an extraordinary role model. He doesn't accept mediocrity from his students because he believes in their greatness, and they're able to meet his standards of excellence with hard work and practice. His students are good role models for the difference that a fantastic educator can make in your life.
Violence & Scariness
Brief references to a student's self-proclaimed thug-like attitude and the violence he escaped by joining the Kashmere Stage Band.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
References to band members' attractive appearance of in high school.
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Occasional "hell" and "damn."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Brief shot of an adult smoking in footage from the '70s.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this documentary is full of inspiring messages and strong role models. Although most Americans won't know the history of the legendary funk band featured in the movie, the documentary is fine for tweens and up. There are a couple of references to a band member's "thug"-like personality and the violence he left behind to stay in the band, as well as some brief mentions of how attractive the band was in the '70s. Some sensitive kids may feel saddened by the band teacher's decline in health and a couple of hospital scenes. Language is limited to "hell" and "damn." Overall, this is an inspiring look at a jazz band that revolutionized high school band competition. 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 documentary, executive produced by Texas-born Jamie Foxx, is bittersweet and will make audiences wonder why they've never heard this amazing story. Why isn't there a Mr. Holland's Opus-like adaptation of what Prof did for these teens? Prof himself is an unsung musical genius who was only brought out of obscurity because a young funk-music historian convinced him to release a two-disc set of the KSB's best recordings. Director Mark Landsman captures Prof's charisma, even at age 92, and intersperses footage of the KSB band in the '70s with interviews with the now middle-aged players, the enthusiastic funk musicologist, and even a DJ who asked to sample one of the KSB's most famous pieces.
At a time when so many arts programs are on the verge of extinction, THUNDER SOUL expresses the importance of music in school. Prof's former students are so faithful to him that they fly back to Houston from all around the world to participate in a reunion concert just for him, even though he's almost too frail to attend. Tears will be shed as this group of late-40-something friends pick up their instruments again as a testimony to what an inspirational teacher can provide -- the belief that every student is worthy and capable of greatness.
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.