The Express

2008 PG 2h 10m Blu-ray / DVD

The Express

2008 PG 2h 10m Blu-ray / DVD
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Rob Brown stars as trailblazer Ernie Davis, the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy. Dubbed the "Elmira Express" because of his tireless drive, Davis also lived up to the title off the field fighting for racial equality. Director Gary Fleder's inspiring biopic co-stars Dennis Quaid as Ben Schwartzwalder, the crusty Syracuse University coach who teaches Davis the game and in return learns much from his bold civil rights achievements.
Blu-ray DVD
Widescreen Anamorphic 2.40:1
English SDH, French, Spanish (Neutral)
English: Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish (Neutral): Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen Anamorphic 2.40:1
English SDH, French, Spanish (Neutral)
English: DTS 5.1 HD, Spanish (Neutral): DTS 5.1 Surround
PG - Some material may not be suitable for children. Parents urged to give parental guidance. May contain some material parents might not like for their young children.
age 12+
Common Sense rating OK for kids 12+
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age 12+

Common Sense Note

Parents need to know that this film -- which was originally rated PG-13 and was re-edited to earn its PG -- revolves around the issue of race in America in the '50s and '60s and is fraught with racial epithets and racist attitudes. There's also a certain amount of violence -- including hard-hitting football action and also dirty tricks like a coach directing his players to hit an opponent at the site of an injury. There's also some salty tough-talk from a football coach and depictions of the segregation and racial divides in the American South in the '50s and '60s.

Sexual Content

Some kissing and light undressing (blouse removed, underwear on) in the context of a long-term committed relationship. Discussion of interracial dating.


Extensive on-field football action/violence, both within the context of fair play on the field and cheap shots after the whistle's blown. Football players are pelted with trash, with the threat that an angry crowd may throw bottles. Some fistfights.


Occasional strong language, including "ass," "s--t," and "hell." Extensive, constant, and strong racial language, including the "N" word, "spook," "negro," "black," and more; a football player says to the lead character: "I'm going to kick your black ass back to Africa." "Retard" is used as an insult.

Social Behavior

The entire film involves intense, extensive discussions of race in the America in the '60s, from segregation to "Jim Crow" laws to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s community organizing and marches. The symbols of the KKK and the Confederacy are seen on death threats. A character who has an athletic scholarship is reminded that, while football is nice, a college degree is even more important. The lead character's mother is flighty and leaves her son with his grandfather for several years. Much is made of the lead character's position as a role model and inspiration during the racially divided '50s and '60s in America. Discussion of terminal illness.


Some logos visible, like Pepsi, Budweiser, Woolworths, Time magazine, and Ritz; characters sing a Pepsi jingle. Constant mention of universities and athletic teams like Syracuse University, Notre Dame, the UT Longhorns, the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Cleveland Browns, etc.

Drugs / Tobacco / Alcohol

Beer is served.

  • Age appropriate
  • Not an issue
  • Depends on your child and your family
  • Parents strongly cautioned
  • Not appropriate for kids of the age

This information for parents is provided by Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving kids' media lives.

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