Parents' Guide to

Tijuana Jackson: Purpose Over Prison

By Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Nonstop language, sweet family love in profane comedy.

Movie NR 2020 93 minutes
Tijuana Jackson: Purpose Over Prison Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 18+

Based on 1 parent review

age 18+

Tijuana Jackson Purpose Over Prison is the film 2020 didn’t know it needed!

Tijuana Jackson Purpose Over Prison was filmed a few years ago, but couldn’t have been released at a more poignant moment in history. With the current climate finally shedding light on topics long hidden from the public view, this movie reinforces the truths being shared all over social media today. Tijuana’s story shows the truth of the criminal “justice” system. It also reveals how families shun, rather than support inmates as they exit prison, and try to find their feet. Watching the pain in TJ’s face as he tries to integrate with society... well let’s just say it broke my heart. It reminds me of times I have watched exactly this scene play out with loved ones, and it showed me where I played the role of fed-up sister. It was truly transformational, and really helped me see where I can be a better support person and advocate. You can’t afford to miss this film. The creator and star Romany Malco, is a visionary, a groundbreaker, and a man before his time. If I had to pick only one person to follow in the film industry for the rest of my days, it would be Romany. Hands down. To be totally honest, I laughed and cried through the whole thing. Then I rented it again, with the same results. I can’t wait to purchase the DVD copy, and I am even more excited to see where TJ’s story goes next.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (1 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

Profane and often hilarious, this indie comedy's streak of surprising sweetness -- and Jackson's contentious yet supportive relationships with his family and friends -- make for feel-good laughs. Jackson is something of a caricature, whom we're invited to laugh at as Tijuana Jackson begins: He's righteous, he talks a lot, he's overly sure of himself, and he buttonholes everyone around him to give advice in his role as a fledgling motivational speaker. The thing is, he's actually pretty good at the advice game. Among random anecdotes about prison life and lines about striving and doing your best, he occasionally sums up people's problems in a way that's devastatingly succinct.

The appealing thing about Jackson is that he can see a brighter future for himself and everyone he loves, even if right now he's sleeping in a car and providing impromptu therapy for strangers he meets down at the beach. No one thinks he can succeed at, well, anything, but, by the sheer force of his will and charm, he's actually getting somewhere. His family is so fed up with him when he gets out of prison that they don't even bother to pick him up. But slowly, lovingly, he worms his way back into their good graces. It's not a scheme: Jackson actually cares about his family. He tenderly rubs his mom's gnarled arthritic feet and empties her bed pan; he takes Lil Eric with him everywhere, filling the air between them with unasked-for advice, even as he provides solid role model service just by being there and caring. Despite his many flaws, Tijuana Jackson is a man going places, and you'll want to go with him.

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