A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie challenges the audience. Teens are going to want to see it because they like the music and the images of Tupac's "gangsta" lifestyle. This movie shows it like it is and you see how conflicted Tupac was. Arrested 12 times but also very caring about his community, he is not an easy person as a role model. Just know there is graphic everything here -- sex, violence, language, drugs, lifestyle and of course he dies at the end. But there's no getting around his influence and importance in the teenaged cultural world. As parents you can either go with the R rating and not let your kids see it. But if you do, please consider going with them.
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What's the story?
This mesmerizing documentary about the late rap star Tupac Shakur makes clear what a talented performer and vibrant presence he was, even for those who don't listen to rap music. Shakur's mother was one of the few women leaders of the Black Panthers. She went to prison when she was pregnant with him. He was deeply aware that he served time in prison before he was born. He respected his mother's activism but felt that he didn't get enough of her attention, and he missed having a strong male role model. He cared for his community but hated being poor. He briefly dealt drugs, but even the local dealers urged him to follow his dream. He loved performing and was accepted at a school for the arts. By the time he was a teenager, he was working professionally. By the time he was 20, he was a successful recording artist. He understood the irony when it was only after he became famous that he was picked up by the cops. A citation for jaywalking led to a confrontation that became a beating. Meanwhile, he is stunned and humbled to find that his visibility has young people looking to him for leadership. He takes it seriously, and gives a lot of thought to what he wants to tell them. He helps develop a code of behavior for "thugs" that covers things like keeping civilians out of the line of fire in gang warfare and taking responsibility for children.
Is it any good?
TUPAC: RESURRECTION effectively tells a deeply moving story. It shows us a gifted, thoughtful, and intelligent young man who has to cope with the challenges of poverty and then has to manage the even more complex challenges of success. And it deals forthrightly with the problems of race and class in America, from racism and police brutality to black on black crime, absent fathers, and the uneasy relationship between showbiz "thug life" and the real thing. The movie was produced by Shakur's mother and MTV, which provided access to broadcast footage, interviews, and outtakes. That allows Shakur, eerily, to tell the story himself, even predicting his own violent death. He warns us that his will be a story of "violence, redemption, and love," and that proves to be true.
Shakur is clearly and refreshingly as free from any form of prejudice as it is possible to be, at least in his own relationships. He uses racist and sexist language in the songs he writes, but also writes about respecting women. He has enormous charm but is also a thoughtful young man who wants to understand the world better and he wants to make an important contribution. He admits his mistakes freely and he learns from them and moves on. Anyone who watches this movie will feel his loss and want to carry forward his dreams.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what they think Tupac's importance is both to them and the broader culture. What kind of role model is he? What do they think about how he behaves toward women, authority, his community? Why do they think he did what he did and expressed himself the way he did? Why do they think his music is so good? There is fertile ground here to really address a huge part of pop culture and learn how your kids are absorbing its messages. Finally, you might ask them if they think the documentary is historically accurate and find out how they interpret what they see and whether or not they question powerful images such as the ones presented in this film.
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