Father and child sit together smiling while looking at a smart phone.

Want more recommendations for your family?

Sign up for our weekly newsletter for entertainment inspiration

Parents' Guide to

White Boy Rick

By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Gritty, violent biopic about a young drug dealer's downfall.

Movie R 2018 111 minutes
White Boy Rick Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 11+

This title has:

Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
age 18+

This movie is for very mature audiences

This is a very good movie but is an extremely mature and inappropriate film. The entire plot is based on a drug war in Detroit when crack is going around the city. There is brief nudity in one scene in a strip club which isn't really a problem but it shows a 16 year old becoming a drug dealer facing life in prison which is a terrible influence. If your kid is under 18 only take them if you are confident in their maturity. P.S- Constant unnecessary language; f**k constantly, and the N-word used by thugs.

This title has:

Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (2 ):

This gritty biopic starts well, with fine casting and performances and vivid emotional bonds, but it eventually becomes a stern cautionary tale and sinks into a downbeat, hopeless final act. Directed by Yann Demange ('71), White Boy Rick re-creates a blown-out Detroit landscape, where the perpetual cold, drizzly weather only highlights the graffiti-covered ruins. By comparison, the local roller-skate club, with its throbbing lights and music, feels like paradise. The movie's cast seems to fit right in (especially newcomer Merritt), feeling authentic and home-grown rather than made-up. Even frequent sex symbol McConaughey looks authentically wretched in his greasy mullet and sleazy mustache.

Aside from a few movie-ish conventions (montages, musical needle drops, etc.), the movie surges on its immersive human connections, even between Ricky and the FBI agents (well played by Jennifer Jason Leigh and Rory Cochrane). It also manages a striking visual or two (e.g., Rick carrying a large stuffed duck he found on the sidewalk). The filmmakers decide to stick too close to the real, harrowing story, but they can't seem to find anything to say about it other than "Isn't this terrible?" White Boy Rick can't decide whether it wants to be about the characters or the broken system, and both sides of the story suffer for it.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: September 14, 2018
  • On DVD or streaming: December 25, 2018
  • Cast: Matthew McConaughey , Bel Powley , Richie Merritt
  • Director: Yann Demange
  • Inclusion Information: Middle Eastern/North African directors, Female actors
  • Studio: Columbia Pictures
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 111 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: language throughout, drug content, violence, some sexual references, and brief nudity
  • Last updated: February 22, 2023

Inclusion information powered by

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.

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