Uncorked

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
Uncorked Movie Poster Image
Moving coming-of-age story has mature themes, cursing.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 104 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

People can disagree and still love and support each other. Sometimes you have to separate from family in order to make coming back more meaningful.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Elijah is a thoughtful, intelligent, decent man and dutiful son who wants to find his own passion in life.

Violence

A beloved family member dies of a long illness.

Sex

A man and woman kiss briefly in bed, she in lingerie and he bare-chested.

Language

"F--k," "s--t," the "N" word, "bitch," "ass," "d--k," and "p---y."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink alcohol. A man pursues a career in fine wines.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Uncorked is a mature film in the sense that it's full of wisdom about how kids pay homage to their parents at the same time as separating themselves, and how hard that can be emotionally for both the parents and the kids. A death in the family unbalances the family dynamic. A man and woman kiss briefly in bed, she in lingerie and he bare-chested. Although language includes "f--k," "s--t," "p---y," and the "N" word, most of it's heard in the score's rap lyrics. A man pursues a career in fine wines; adults drink. Positive messages about the importance of family and accepting those you love just as they are make this a film that parents and older teens can appreciate together.

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What's the story?

Elijah (Mamoudou Athie) works at the family barbecue restaurant in Memphis, stoking the coals, cutting ribs, and cleaning the floors, but his second job at a wine store is where he contemplates his true love: wine. In UNCORKED, he finally musters the courage to tell his father, Louis (Courtney B. Vance Jr.), that he wants to study to be a sommelier (a wine expert) rather than continue as a barbecue slinger. He doesn't want to get stuck the way his own dad got stuck years ago when he abandoned his dreams and left college to take over the restaurant from his father. Louis takes the announcement as a personal rejection and belittles Elijah's passion, in part because it feels as if Elijah thinks he's above running a family restaurant. Elijah's mom, Sylvia (Niecy Nash), is fully supportive and vigilantly negotiates the conflict between the two headstrong men in her life, trying to get her husband to believe in Elijah. 

Is it any good?

This is a beautiful, moving, subtle, well-made film about families, the natural process of growing up and away from your parents, and then coming back to them for all the right reasons. Athie as Elijah never takes a false step as a son both devoted to his dad and also afraid to disappoint him. Writer-director Prentice Penny (TV's Insecure) captures a sense of family and the way real people speak to each other, and shows how much the father and son, seemingly at odds, actually have in common. The father is a perfectionist about his barbecue, an expert on wood for smoking, meticulous about the meat he buys and its marbling. Elijah exhibits the same attention to detail, but in a different world, a world where fewer Black people are likely to be major players, and that feels even more like a rejection to the dad.

Niecy Nash, in a delicious performance that feels like a warm bath of parental love, conveys unconditional acceptance of her son, not taking his interest outside the family business as a rejection but rather as a sign that her son has found his own path. Apart from the inclusion of a girlfriend played by Sasha Compere that adds little to the plot, Uncorked is a high-level course in Family that older teens and parents can appreciate.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how well Uncorked depicts the feelings of both the dad and the son. How can we tell that the dad is hurt by his son rather than angry at him?

  • Do you think Elijah's reluctance to tell his dad he doesn't want to take over the business comes out of fear of his dad's anger or because he doesn't want to hurt and disappoint the father he loves? What scenes in the movie guide you to your conclusion?

  • How do you think Elijah's mother and father balance each other? How important is it for kids to have supportive parents cheering them on?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love family tales

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