We Are Freestyle Love Supreme

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
We Are Freestyle Love Supreme Movie Poster Image
Hip-hop comedy improv group goes on tour; language.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 90 minutes

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Love is what powers this group's creativity.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Talented people share the stage and work behind the scenes to create a show that showcases their friendship and support for each other. No one tries to hog the attention.

Violence
Sex
Language

Infrequent use of the words "f--k" and "s--t."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One group member admits alcoholism sidetracked him, but he has now been sober several years.

 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that We Are Freestyle Love Supreme is a documentary about a core group of freestyle rappers, including Lin-Manuel Miranda of Hamilton renown, who have been friends and have worked together for years. Footage from previous performances is mixed with more current rehearsals and performances of the latest 2019 tour of the group. One group member admits alcoholism sidetracked him, but he has now been sober several years. Language includes "f--k" and "s--t," but the material largely focuses on deep friendships and the joy their collaboration has brought them and audiences. Fans of the show Hamilton will see its roots in Manuel's early inspirations and his familiar collaborators.

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What's the story?

WE ARE FREESTYLE LOVE SUPREME is a documentary about Freestyle Love Supreme, a group of freestyle rappers who met mostly while students at Wesleyan University. As the story unfolds, they haven't toured as a group with their hip-hop comedy show since 2004. Since then their lives have intervened. One founding member, Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of the Tony-winning hit Broadway shows Hamilton and In the Heights, has been pretty busy, and so have the other rappers, singers, and musicians. Some have married, others had children, one moved away. The group's diversity is inspiring with Black, White, Latinx, and South Asian members each bringing a different cultural perspective. From their earliest public performances in a New York City bookstore basement, their joy of performing is clear as shown in footage woven together by director Andrew Fried (Chef's Table). The talented crew, including Anthony Veneziale, Tommy Kail, Utkarsh Amudkan, Andrew Bancroft, Christopher Jackson, Chris Sullivan, and Manuel's friend since third grade friend Arthur Lewis, all enjoy equal stage time with the more well-known Miranda, who revels in their talents. Clearly, they all love each other, and working together brings them joy anyone would envy.  

Is it any good?

We Are Freestyle Love Supreme is a pleasing documentary about a group of friends who love working together and bringing joy to audiences. That alone makes this inspiring for any young artist striving to do good work. Freestyle rap is a kind of rhyming improv, and this group combines improv comedy group techniques with the freestyle spirit, calling for words and ideas from audiences from which to create spontaneous raps.

Although profane language is occasionally used, this group seems far more focused on lighthearted and fun-loving performances than what might be categorized as hardcore rap, with its frequent emphasis on graphic sexuality, money, and profanity. These guys are having a great time. When an audience member describes an episode with her infirm dog, Miranda gets down on the floor and, shaking and shimmying, embodies a smiling, epileptic canine while another performer raps her saga. Sometimes the rhymes are a bit childish, other times clever, but these guys aren't looking to solve social problems here, just to bring everyone together with beats, music, words, and an uplifting sense of brotherhood.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how much fun it is to work on a project with friends. Why do you think creativity might flow more freely among people who get on well together?

  • Miranda wrote and starred in the successful Broadway show Hamilton, which used rap to present historical struggles at the birth of American democracy. How could rap help younger audiences appreciate school subjects they might not otherwise enjoy?

  • How does the improvisational rap presented by this group compare with recorded rap produced and sold by more conventional rap music stars today?

Movie details

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