UnDivided

Movie review by
Grace Montgomery, Common Sense Media
UnDivided Movie Poster Image
Disjointed faith-based docu tackles poverty, gang violence.
  • PG
  • 2013
  • 66 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Help those in need. Give back to your community. Any person can teach you new and valuable lessons, even if they are poorer, less educated, or from a background different from yours.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The faculty at Roosevelt High School and the members of SouthLake Church selflessly volunteer their time, money, and energy to help kids and a community in need. Many of the students featured improve their lives and succeed by working hard and helping each other.

Violence

There's a lot of talk about gang violence, including kids being shot and killed. One student talks about how her dad choked her and had to go to jail. Another student reveals her past growing up in war-torn Sudan. A football player breaks his leg during a football game.

Sex

Talk about teen parents, but no references to sex or relationships.

Language

"Damn it," "dang it," "hell."

Consumerism

Reference to Starbucks. Nike funds the repairs to the school's football field. SouthLake Church, a church in Oregon, and its members are heavily featured.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that UnDivided is a documentary about Roosevelt High School, a failing school in Portland, Oregon, and how a local church helped revitalize it. SouthLake Church and its members are featured heavily, and religious themes and messages play a large role in the documentary. Talk about gang violence (references to drive-by shootings and other violence), abuse (a girl describes being choked by her father), and teen pregnancies make the film best for older tweens and up. There's also some mild profanity ("hell," "damn it") and some distressing descriptions of kids not having enough food. But the strong positive messages about helping others and giving back to the community may appeal to many parents, though the faith-based focus may be off-putting to viewers who aren't religious.

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What's the story?

Roosevelt High School used to be one of the top schools in Portland, Oregon, but years of gang violence and poverty pushed it to the point of closure. In 2008, the pastor of SouthLake Church urged his followers to attend a cleanup day at the school. When hundreds showed up to help out, it sparked a new collaboration between the church and the school. Soon volunteers and donations poured in. A community clothes closet was opened to give needy students and family members much-needed supplies. Mentors stepped in to help students learn valuable job and life skills. And former professional football player Neil Lomax stepped in to coach the struggling football team. But as the volunteers begin to learn the harsh realities these teens face every day, they soon realize that there are no quick fixes for Roosevelt High.

Is it any good?

Although it has a wonderful message about the power of individuals to help shape and renew a community, a disjointed plot and preachy tone weigh down this documentary. Much of UNDIVIDED feels like a commercial for SouthLake Church, which gets old pretty fast. As a nonmember, the viewer can definitely appreciate the work and dedication of the church's members, but it gets tiresome to constantly be given a sales pitch. Key plot points are also somewhat jumbled, with key people or events being referred to long before they're explained, which makes it hard to follow the time line of events.

Families looking for a positive film that teaches the importance of helping others may enjoy this documentary, but nonreligious viewers may want to skip this one.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Roosevelt High School and its community. Do you think the method used to revitalize Roosevelt High School could be used in any community? What practices could be used in your community?

  • Why is it important to volunteer in your community and help others? What can you do?

  • Do you think UnDivided could be entertaining to nonreligious viewers? Why, or why not?

Movie details

For kids who love documentaries and inspiring stories

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