Black or White

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +3

Content: -2

Kevin Costner, Octavia Spencer, Jillian Estell, Anthony Mackie. Comedy/drama. Written & directed by Mike Bender.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Black or White is the story of a grandfather (Academy Award® winner Kevin Costner) who is suddenly left to care for his beloved 7-year-old granddaughter.  When her paternal grandmother (Academy Award® winner Octavia Spencer) seeks custody with the help of her brother (Anthony Mackie), the little girl is torn between two families who love her deeply.  With the best intentions at heart, both families fight for what they feel is right and are soon forced to confront their true feelings about race, forgiveness, and understanding. Anchored by an all-star cast and based on real events, the movie is a look at two seemingly different worlds, in which nothing is as simple as black or white.

PREVIEW REVIEW: A timely film declaring that racial prejudice can still be found in our society, Black or White is broadly painted, but does contain some amusing and touching moments. The main characters are flawed but likable, with solid performances by all, and the message though overly familiar in films about racial divide, is worth repeating - we humans, no matter the race or color, have more in common than not.

I’ve never understood the concept of disliking someone due to the color of his skin or differences in upbringing. My dad taught me to show respect for each individual. He had grasped the teaching in John 3:16 that those who want to distance themselves from other races ignore: “For God so loved the ‘world’ that he gave his only begotten Son. That ‘whosoever’ believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Those two words, “world” and “whosoever,” make it clear that God loves all who turn to Him. To me, that doesn’t sound like He favors one race over another.

Unfortunately, there’s so much disharmony in our land today, much of it caused by people unwilling to see Satan at work. A lot of people out there are screaming for more rights, others for more laws, yet few seem to understand that self-rights and judicial laws aren’t what change the heart. An openness to God’s grace and Christ’s sacrifice are what change a mindset. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart…Love your neighbor as yourself,” Matthew 22:36-40.

Who’s your neighbor


I include that little sermonette because the filmmaker obviously has an agenda. And as important as it is, if our faith is correct, the full answer to bigotry or any social wrongdoing can’t be fully defeated without that biblical adherence.

As to the film’s one objectionable - for me it was the offensive language. Evidently, curse words in movies have no effect on the listeners. Do we no longer find the expression “God----” to be profane? Is the crude s-word just the new “darn it”? And is the f-bomb or “Jesus” the only ways a filmmaker can express frustration. I understand that this kind of language has become acceptable movie talk, but it really isn’t very original. I base that on the fact that those obscenities can be heard in most films, no matter the subject matter, no matter the class of characters.

Interestingly, when the N-word is uttered in this film, it’s being used by the filmmaker to reiterate just how negative and destructive a word can be. But we’ve come to accept all other once prohibited language as, well, acceptable.

Sorry, I know I tend to go on about profanity in movies. I’m probably preaching to the choir. But I’m venting. It ruins a movie for me.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Treehouse Films

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: A few crude expressions

Obscene Language: 16 or so uses of the s-word, one f-bomb, and several minor expletives.

Profanity: Seven profane uses of God’s name and at least two misuses of Christ’s name.

Violence: A drug-fused scuffle leads to a near drowning.

Sex: None

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: The male lead has a drinking problem, but it is not glorified and seen as destructive.

Other: None

Running Time: 121 minutes
Intended Audience: Mature viewers

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