A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Passion to purse a dream. Overcoming obstacles and odds. Breaking racial barriers. Inspiration to bring social change for a more diverse and inclusive world.
Positive Role Models
References include encouragement Ribbs gets from his grandfather, who builds a business for the family to pass down as generational wealth. Actor Paul Newman and American businessman Jim Trueman reach out to Ribbs about auto racing sponsorship opportunities. Muhammad Ali mentors Ribbs about the challenges in the then all-White sport of auto racing. Sports promoter Don King talks to Ribbs about helping the driver become a competitor in the Indy 500 car race.
Images include Black boxer Muhammad Ali, William T. "Bunny" Ribbs, father of Ribbs and African American auto racer, White actor Paul Newman and a car racing enthusiast, Joie Rae, an African American and pioneer car racer, Jim Trueman, a White auto racing team owner, and Paul Riley, an African American Indy 500 maintenance chief. Auto racing was primarily a White and male-dominated sport during the 20th century.
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Violence & Scariness
Images include Ku Klux Klan attire and cross burning, Confederate flags, race car drivers fighting, and cars crashing and exploding into flames. References include death threats, possible suicide, and Bill Cosby sexual assault crimes.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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Swear words include "bulls--t," "damn," "f--k," "goddamn," and “motherf--ker." Slurs include the "N" word, "uppity," "badass," "rednecks," and "son of a bitch." Other mentions include Jim Crow playbook, "Oriental" to describe Asians, and an anti-Semitic remark.
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Products & Purchases
Racing cars, signs, and apparel with logos, messages, and brand names. Sport sponsorship references. TV ads promoting products.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Bottles of beer and champagne. Cigar and cigarette smoking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Uppity: The Willy T. Ribbs Story is a documentary about the first Black man to take part in America's Indianapolis 500 auto race. Images include smoking, beer and champagne bottles, rival drivers physically fighting, crashing cars exploding into flames, Ku Klux Klan robes, and cross burning. References include death threats, a possible suicide, Bill Cosby sexual assault crimes, and testicles. Swear words include "bulls--t," "damn," "f--k," "goddamn," and "motherf--ker." Slurs include the "N" word, "uppity," "badass," "son of a bitch," and "rednecks." Positive messages include passion to purse a dream and breaking down barriers to get there. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
With its effective narrative, this is an exceptional documentary for older kids and teens about an African American pioneer race car driver in pursuit of a passion that others wish to deny him. "There is no sport more exciting than racing," says Ribbs in Uppity: The Willy T. Ribbs Story. "This is the next best thing to heaven."
The same powerful sentiment about the sport is echoed by a Ribbs mentor and supporter, actor and car racing enthusiast Paul Newman. "The only thing that I ever found any grace in was an automobile," notes Newman. Ribbs also befriends boxing champion Muhammad Ali, who gives the aspiring driver advice about being Black in a primarily all-White and male-dominated sport during the 20th century. "I broke down barriers that were not supposed to be broken down," recalls Ribbs, who successfully laid the groundwork for a more diverse and inclusive world with his historic role in society.
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.
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Our Editors Recommend
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Amazing Books for Teens Exploring Black History
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate