Common Sense Note
Parents need to know that, thanks to its hip-hop soundtrack and rebellious teen characters, this drama about high school students will appeal to many kids. It deals with some mature themes -- gang violence, loss of a friend or family member, the Holocaust -- in tasteful, if formulaic, ways. Violent scenes include fighting on campus and a street shooting (a boy is killed, his bloody chest visible). Kids argue with each other and their teacher, disrespecting her verbally and laughing at her. Students discuss the Holocaust, Anne Frank, and meet a survivor who describes her ordeal. Students write about their losses in their journals, which the teacher reads out loud or in voiceover (these are sad moments). Language includes several uses of "s--t," "damn," and one use of the n-word in anger (the context is a student journal description of police abuses).
Allusions to teen pregnancy; some kissing between high school couples; girls in tight outfits; some kissing between a married couple.
Repeated verbal and visual references to street/gun violence (the film opens with clips from the Rodney King tape, riots in Los Angeles, and reports on murders in Long Beach); brief but jolting fight between students (one pulls a gun); security/metal detectors at school; a shooting leaves one boy with a bloody bullet wound in chest (explicit and upsetting); discussions about losing friends to shootings, as well as historical systems of oppression (specifically, the Holocaust); descriptions of Holocaust violence; girl appears with bruises as she describes her hard life.
Some profanity, including one use of "f--k" and multiple uses of "ass" (and "dumbass"), "s--t," and "damn." One student's journal entry (read out loud) uses the n-word; single uses of "bitch" and "balls." Reference to "sex, drugs, cursing, and fornication in black literature."
High school students disrespect their teacher until she earns their admiration; she is utterly noble and motivated only to help them succeed. A student's drawing shows another student with exaggerated, racist features (big lips and nose).
Brief references to Cops, Homer Simpson, Tupac Shakur, Marriot hotel, Borders Books.
Drugs / Tobacco /
Erin and Scott drink wine several times; she gets drunk after an emotional upheaval. Class toasts "for change."