A new pop star (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) wins a Billboard Music Award and seeking money and fame to please her mother she must confront the pressures of success. Her lifesaver is a police officer (Nate Parker) with political goals. Also with Minnie Driver, Danny Glover and Machine Gun Kelly. Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood. [1:42]
SEX/NUDITY 6 - There are three scenes that suggest sex: we see a sequence of a bare shoulder, faces kissing in close-up, a bare arm and part of a bare back and in the last of these scenes we also see a close-up of a woman's face as she gasps, close-ups of her hands scratching a man's back as he lies on top of her and a close-up of a man's hand grasping the edge of a mattress. A woman tells a man, "I want you" as she leads him blindfolded into a private plane, headphones covering his ears and playing a song titled "Drunk in Love"; she removes the blindfold and he looks startled as she straddles his lap, reaches below frame into his pants and he gasps while she moves up and down (intercourse implied), kisses him and the scene ends.
► The film principal theme concerns the sexualization of female pop stars: One scene features a 10-year-old girl with a noticeable mustache and cuts to the child as a lilac-haired twenty-something pop star in a bondage-like music video with lyrics that contain the refrain repeated by the woman, "Do it, do it, do it" while she is shown wearing a shiny black patent leather bandage top and panties with knee-high boots and sitting on a straight back chair or stool; with her knees close to the camera, she opens and closes her bare thighs repeatedly (we see a slight amount of shaved outer pubic area and her breasts above and below the bandage top and bare shoulders, arms and midriff as she writhes side to side; the video cuts to a scene of her wearing a ruffled tuxedo blouse and semi-transparent black tights while a male performer tattooed from throat to the top of the pubic bone in front and from neck to below the waist in the back bends her over a table toward the camera, face up; he later embraces her roughly and bends her face down, with lyrics suggesting he intends to have sex with her.
► A female pop star wears a topless dress to a large awards show and it consists of a clingy skirt extending from below the bosom to just below the buttocks (part of her buttocks shows as she walks, along with full bare thighs); many golden chains wrap around her neck and drape down to cover her nipples with some cleavage visible. A female pop star wears a coppery dress that bares her arms and most of her legs to the thighs, as well as substantial cleavage in what appears to be a push-up bra. In a backstage scene, we see handlers inserting silicon pads under a woman's breasts in a bra to show substantial cleavage in a V-necked top. Several scenes and posters show a female pop star wearing a narrow bandage top that reveals shoulders, arms, midriff and cleavage, with shorts or micro-miniskirts baring her full legs and thighs; one poster shows her on all fours, wearing a midriff shirt and a thong with her buttocks raised and a ruler held against one buttock in a spanking gesture. A female singer wears a bondage style outfit to an awards ceremony; it includes a wide gilded metal choke-collar to match bicep and wrist manacles on bare arms, all chained together with the chains limiting her arm movement, as well as a miniskirt that reveals most of her bare legs to the thighs and the skimpy top reveals cleavage. Several women in concert audiences and backstage wear dresses that reveal bare arms and cleavage. A few women wear shorts that reveal full bare legs and thighs. A man appears shirtless, revealing bare shoulders, arms, chest and abdomen, with a long unreadable tattoo across the shoulder blades. A woman in a photo session wears panties and covers her bare breasts with her folded arms.
► At a bar, a woman wearing skimpy shorts and a midriff top twerks close to another woman's face, then she straddles a man's lap and writhes as he grins. A man and a woman spend a week together in a Mexican motel and we see them in bed under covers in three scenes with bare shoulders and partial backs showing. A man and a woman kiss for several seconds on a stage, while a large audience cheers. In a few scenes, a man and a woman kiss briefly. A woman kisses a man on the cheek.
► Five women on a stage wear short trench coats that reveal their full bare legs to the thighs while they writhe, squat with thighs far apart and rub the palms of one hand down their groin area several times and a male entertainer sits on a bed and videos the action; the dancers attempt to rip off the lead singer's coat, but she holds it tight and during the song, the male entertainer attempts to pull off the coat unsuccessfully twice before slamming her onto the bed hard; she pushes him away and he attempts to drive her head into the stage floor as the crowd hisses and the male entertainer announces that he broke up with the woman because she was sleeping around and that her new boyfriend is taking his unwanted leftovers; she is shown wearing a skimpy bra and lacy sheer boy-panties as she picks up her coat and walks away.
► An entertainer texts a female singer and another man sees the text blocked from view, remarking "Put your face WHERE?!" (sexual contact is suggested); when the woman next sees the entertainer she tells him to stop sexting her and breaks up with him, reminding him that the record label insisted they pretend to be a couple. A woman's boyfriend leaves after an award ceremony, telling her, "Keep it tight for me, alright?"
► A man berates a woman for her sexualized performances by calling them her usual "face-down, [anatomical term deleted]-up." A woman argues with her mother about all the semi-nude photo shoots she has done since her childhood and her mom says it is fine because they made money; the woman shouts and cries and her mom slaps her in the face. A woman tells a police officer that women will want to be with his "sexy hero" image. A female pop star says that she will no longer be singing sexualized music.
VIOLENCE/GORE 3 - A woman calls a police officer and when he arrives the woman's husband shoots at him, hitting the ceiling instead; the officer takes the man down and punches his face hard three times until it is bloody. A male entertainer pushes a female singer very roughly on stage and calls her names; a police officer punches him in the jaw and he falls as the woman walks off stage and the crowd applauds. Two police officers restrain an abusive husband and cuff him as his wife cries with a bloody mouth and two little boys look scared.
► A woman enters her hotel room followed by her mother who screams loudly off camera and a police guard runs in to find the singer sitting on the balcony railing, looking down into traffic; she falls forward, but the guard pulls her back up and onto the balcony, where she cries; the next day, she tells the press that she slipped, because she was inebriated and her high heels were too tall (please see the Substance Use category for more details).
► A woman smashes four poster-size frames photos in her home, cutting her hand and forearm (we see some blood, but no cuts and no bandages are shown). A stage mom orders her daughter to smash her second-place trophy in a school singing competition and the girl drops it sadly leaving broken pieces on the pavement. A woman continually belittles and shouts at her daughter as an adult, suggesting that she is stupid and telling her that she is a cliché. A woman argues with her mother about all the semi-nude photo shoots she has done since her childhood and her mom says it is fine because they made money; the woman shouts and cries and her mom slaps her in the face. A man berates a woman for her sexualized performances by calling them her usual "face-down, [anatomical term deleted]-up." A record label executive tells a pop star, "Suicide ain't sexy" and she denies attempting suicide while her mother shouts about cheap tabloid speculations.
► Paparazzi chase a pop star and a police officer wherever either one of them goes, causing driving problems with flashing camera lights in their eyes and the photographers get close-ups as the officer places a large rifle into his cruiser trunk.
PROFANITY 5 - At least 1 F-word, 7 scatological terms, 2 anatomical terms, 20 mild obscenities, name-calling (crazy, insane, stupid, idiots, old man, cliché, broad, hero, Boy Scout), stereotypical references to stage mothers, single parents, white rappers, porno-chic pop stars, church women, record label executives, politicians, political activist ministers, police officers, physically abusive husbands, paparazzi, 2 religious exclamations (Oh My God, Good Lord). [profanity glossary]
SUBSTANCE USE - A woman drinks a full bottle of champagne in her limousine (please see the Violence/Gore category for more details), a man orders a beer at a bar (he does not drink it) and short glasses of liquor are seen in front of several other men, a man drinks a bottle of beer on a beach, men and women drink Margaritas and bottles of beer at a beach bar, a man drinks a bottle of beer in an apartment, men and women have glasses of wine in front of them at a dinner, and a woman passes bottles of champagne around and people drink from beverages in highball glasses at a party.
DISCUSSION TOPICS - The music industry, suicide, stage mothers, ambition, the porno-chic trend, sexualization of female recording artists for popularity, objectification of women, physical abuse and domestic violence, musicians' mental health, fame, greed, blind followers, relationships, love, creativity, following one's own path.
MESSAGE - One need not follow the crowd example of sexualizing and abusing women.