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Black Nativity | 2013 | PG | - 1.3.2

Based on a Langston Hughes play, the story follows a teen (Jacob Latimore) from Baltimore to Harlem at Christmastime: Evicted from his home in Maryland, he visits his grandparents (Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett), but he does not like their rules and he is determined to make money and return home to help his mother (Jennifer Hudson). Also with Tyrese Gibson, Vondie Curtis Hall, Mary J. Blige and Nas. Directed by Kasi Lemmons. [1:33]

SEX/NUDITY 1 - We hear a woman in a tent scream, groan, and cry in childbirth and then hear a baby cry (please see the Violence/Gore category for more details).
 An unmarried woman raises her son alone for 15 years and we hear that her father paid the baby's father to stay away from the family.
 A few women in a church service wear V-necked dresses that reveal cleavage. A woman in a church play is dressed to look pregnant wearing a padded belly.


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VIOLENCE/GORE 3 - A 15-year-old boy enters a pawnshop late at night where an employee takes a gun out of his waistband; the boy asks to see it, picks it up and points it at the man, threatening to shoot unless he receives a diamond ring from a showcase and cash from the register; the adult refuses to open the register and asks the boy if a dream deferred is like festering sores or rotting meat and the two argue with increasing noise until a police officer enters with his gun drawn and the shop employee shouts that the boy's gun is empty and they argue.
 A teen boy steals a watch and money from his grandfather's desk drawer, but the older man later confronts him and retrieves the watch. A teen boy enters a hotel to use a telephone, picks up a wallet that someone else left on a counter and thinks about keeping it, but returns it to its owner; the owner calls the police and the camera cuts to the teen in a jail cell where adult male prisoners taunt him until his grandfather comes to bail him out and upbraids him for stealing; they argue and continue arguing for several days about family secrets.
 A teen boy loses his backpack full of clothes to a younger boy that robs him and he shouts and pursues him but cannot catch him. Three teen strut and make noise in a corner market and the owner chases them off as they shout and make faces; one of the boys picks up a spray paint can and adds color to some graffiti on a wall.
 A teenager steps out in front of a speeding, honking taxi on a NYC street and a woman pulls him onto the sidewalk before he is struck.
 A teen boy attempts to pawn a watch that he stole, but the pawnshop owner speaks severely to him about stealing and about the boy's gangster father, whom the boy has never met. A teen boy and his struggling single mother argue about their eviction notice, home foreclosure and the mother's plans to send the boy to his grandparents in Harlem; we see the mother later standing on the street with her possessions piled up on the sidewalk and she sings that poverty is punishment. We hear that a woman was 15 and pregnant (please see the Sex/Nudity category for more details) when her boyfriend was arrested for unknown crimes and for trying to "act like a gangster"; the woman has seldom spoken to her parents and when she does so, she is severe and harsh. A teen boy and his grandparents argue about the boy not attending church until the teen relents.
 A police officer drives a teen boy and the boy's father to a church where the boy's mother is standing outside; she becomes angry and slaps the boy's father several times (he is uninjured) and the boy argues with both his parents on the sidewalk and insists that they go into church with him; inside, the service halts as the pastor (the single mother's dad) sees his daughter, his grandson and the boy's father and the boy demands answers from his grandfather in front of the congregation and we hear that the grandfather paid the boy's father to stay away from the family, robbing his daughter of a husband, the boy of a father, and the boy's father of a life free from crime and jail.
 A homeless woman is pregnant (we see her swollen belly under her sweater and jacket) and in a dream sequence, she becomes Mary and her boyfriend, Joseph; a teen boy helps them find a tent in a backyard in Harlem, a man brings them inside and a woman who seems to have large white wings appears as if she is an angel and announces the birth of Jesus as we hear the woman in the tent scream, groan, and cry in childbirth and we hear a baby cry (we see nothing of the birth). A teen boy dreams that a woman is an angel with large white wings and is singing in a church service.
 A teen boy arranges to purchase a gun. A man has two names tattooed in cursive writing on his throat and upper shoulder. A teen boy has pierced ears with black squares for earrings.


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LANGUAGE 2 - 3 mild obscenities, exclamations (shut-up), name-calling (punks, gangster, pickpocket, crack head, chumps, stupid, fools, bloodsucking, scum bag), stereotypical references to single mothers, fatherless teenagers, small-time criminals, African Americans, the homeless, ministers, Civil Rights marchers, 6 religious exclamations (Jesus, Oh Jesus, Oh Lord, Lord, Dear God, Merry Christmas).


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SUBSTANCE USE - None.


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DISCUSSION TOPICS - Single mothers, families, poverty, Civil Rights, following rules, interfering in others' lives, faith, forgiveness, reconciliation.

MESSAGE - Forgiveness is the best Christmas miracle.

CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.


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