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Kings of the Evening Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 12+

Depression drama has good intentions but doesn't deliver.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this well-meant but clunky period drama about African Americans struggling to get by during the Great Depression centers on characters who are forced to make hard choices during a hard time. Circumstances and racism combine to make it seem impossible to ever get ahead, but some of the characters are able to shine even against strong odds. Expect some swearing (including "s--t" and the "N" word), drinking, and smoking, as well as moderate flirting and a few violent confrontations -- but on the whole the story is more heartwarming than eyebrow raising. Still, kids who aren't already interested in the time period/subject matter probably won't be too intrigued.

  • Families can talk about the Great Depression. How do you think those hard times then compare to modern economic woes? How does the movie show people getting by -- and helping each other get by -- during the 1930s? Do you think people act the same way today?
  • One character defies a stern father figure, while another opts to give her life savings to appease a threatening loan shark. What do you think about the choices these characters (and others) make when faced with difficult situations?
  • How to TV shows and movies typically depict the Great Depression? Is this movie similar to or different from others you've seen set during this time?

The good stuff
  • message true3

    Messages: The movie conveys the message that self-esteem is important, especially during the dark days of the Depression, when many people have little reason to feel anything but gloomy. Simply putting on a good suit and receiving a few words of praise and approval can lift someone's spirits -- and often gives them the strength to push forward through difficult situations.

  • rolemodels true0

    Role models: The characters are all faced with difficult choices and situations; some rise to the occasion better than others. When it comes to specific behavior, one character plays dice, while another collects leftovers that others leave on their plates. One man threatens to set a house on fire if its owner doesn’t pay her ex’s loan shark debts. And one woman seems to value material things -- she talks about liking men who wear nice clothes and have well-paying jobs.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: There's an unofficial boxing match. A gun is brandished. The head of a factory bullies his son and an employee (he also uses racial slurs). A shed is torched, and there's a threat of more violence from a loan shark, who later attempts to knife someone. (Another character goes at him with a bat.) A woman slaps a man who gets fresh with her; a main character points a gun at another point blank. One man tries to hang himself.

  • sex false2

    Sex: A man and a woman who live in the same rooming house flirt; she hints that if he acts just right, he might not “sleep alone” at night. They kiss at the end of a date. Characters are shown sitting in the bath (no sensitive body parts are seen).

  • language false3

    Language: Frequent use of the word “ass” (as in “big ass”), as well as occasional uses of “damn,” “piss,” “s--t,” "hell," and the "N" word.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: One character smokes -- he’s shown holding a cigarette. A man drinks his troubles away and sneaks a bottle into his rooming house. A man scrapes the leftover tobacco from old cigarettes so he can roll new ones to smoke.

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