Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"


Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.


Fruitvale Station


Watch This Review

We hope you enjoyed this content. Be sure to share it with family and friends you think will enjoy it as well.

Movie Review

We write our own stories. We draw our own character. Through our lives we make and invent ourselves, each decision shaping who we are, who we will be.

We imagine we have a full lifetime to tell our stories—70 or 80 or 90 years to define and redefine who we are. We have room to better ourselves. To change direction. To recover from mistakes.

But not everyone has that time. For some, their story ends mid-sentence, their character half-formed.

On the last day of 2008, Oscar Grant is patching up his past. He's no hero. His rap sheet says that much. The 22-year-old black man is a convicted felon—a prison vet and sometime drug dealer. He's been unfaithful to his girlfriend. And just two weeks before, he was fired from his job at a local grocery store.

Oscar's no villain either. Blessed with a warm heart and a gracious character, he's never been as tough as some thought he was (or as he pretended to be). He may not have a job right now, but he has responsibilities, and he takes them seriously. He wants his longtime squeeze to approve of him. He has a daughter in preschool and a mother who never gave up on him. And he's sick of letting them all down.

He needs money, and he could sell a bag of weed he's stashed away to pay the rent. Instead he dumps it in the San Francisco Bay. When he tells Sophina, his girlfriend, what he did, she's so proud, so worried.

"What are you gonna do?" she asks.

"Something legal," he says.

And so the year's last day lurches along with better intentions. He helps a woman in the grocery store, mourns a dog hit by a car. He play-wrestles with his nieces and nephews. He coaxes his little girl into brushing her teeth. He celebrates his mom's birthday with much of his extended family, and he promises Sophina that they'll go to San Francisco to watch the New Year's fireworks. When his daughter worries for him, Oscar says he'll be just fine.

Maybe he believes it. After all, tomorrow is a new year. It may be a new beginning. He has time to reshape his life into something good and worthwhile.

Oscar smiles as he gets on the train at Fruitvale Station in Oakland. His friends are with him for a night of fun. His girl's on his arm. His future lies before him in all its imagined glory.


Positive Elements

Real-life newspaper headlines in January 2009 told us Oscar Grant never made it home that night. Fruitvale Station is a tragedy. But as is the case with many tragedies, there are lessons we can learn from it.

Oscar loves the three women in his life—his mother, his girlfriend and his daughter. And he's trying to do right by all of them, especially his daughter, Tatiana. Sure, he wasn't always the best of dads or the most reliable of role models. Truth be told, he still isn't. But he's trying. And that's an admirable start.

As noted, he dumps out his weed. He helps a stranger in the grocery store pick out fish for her fish fry. He encourages a reluctant shopkeeper to let a pregnant woman use the store's private restroom. He befriends a stray dog—moments before it's hit by a car.

The dog appears to be a pit bull, and is perhaps a metaphor for Oscar himself. The animal may look pretty fearsome, but he's a right friendly pooch. And Oscar, deep down, is a pretty nice guy too. But some folks might not see that side of him—obscured by the color of his skin, his clothes or the guys he hangs around with. Indeed, throughout Oscar's story we see hints of subtle racism, used by Fruitvale Station to powerfully remind us how pervasive and ultimately horrific stereotyping people (no matter what the criteria) can be. Its antidote? Showing us that all people are human beings, worthy of our consideration and our empathy, even when they haven't figured out every angle on life.

I should also make note of Oscar's longsuffering mother, Wanda, who faithfully visits Oscar in prison … until she decides that the kid needs a swift kick in the rear. She's a beautiful example of strength, stability and love—encouraging calm in explosive situations, boosting spirits and doing what she can to keep her family together.

Spiritual Content

Wanda doesn't just encourage calm and boost spirits, she also pushes for prayer. She tells Oscar that she'll keep praying for him (even if she stops visiting). During her birthday dinner, she leads her family in a mealtime prayer. And as doctors try to save Oscar's life, she clasps her hands together and again leads friends and family in prayer: "Heal him, dear Lord, so we can hold him and see his smile again."

Sexual Content

Oscar, who says he'd like to marry Sophina when he has enough money to buy a ring, clearly has a sexual relationship with her. They've had a daughter together, for one thing. And the two engage in some onscreen foreplay, kissing and caressing while she tugs his shirt off. Oscar grabs Sophina's rear in the kitchen. We see her in her underwear.

Sophina confronts Oscar about a fling he had with another woman at one point. "I f‑‑‑ed with her that one time," Oscar insists. "No," Sophina amends. "You got caught that one time." Oscar says the affair is over and that he just wants to be with Sophina and their daughter "forever," and Sophina's reaction suggests it's the first time her man has really committed to lifelong monogamy.

Oscar and his friends run into two women on the train who say they're lesbians. After they reject the passes of a couple of guys, the guys joke, "We gay too!" When they're all on the train at the stroke of midnight, several couples kiss—including the two ladies.

Violent Content

Oscar's death at the hands of the police is the crux of Fruitvale Station. We see the real-life confrontation (which was recorded by several bystanders) in the opening moments of the movie: Police and their detainees shout and sometimes scuffle. Oscar is eventually thrown to the ground and held down by an officer—and then we hear a pop.

The movie's re-creation is more graphic, but only incrementally so: Oscar struggles with the police and is wrestled to the ground. The ensuing gunshot is heard as the camera focuses on Oscar's stunned face. "You shot me," he says, his mouth filling with blood. Once in the hospital, we see the bullet hole in his back and doctors removing the slug from his bloody body.

Oscar gets into a fight with a guy he knew from prison; it's the trigger altercation that brings the police into the situation in the first place. We see someone get hit in the face during the confused and jumbled melee that takes place in the middle of a crowded train car. Several African-Americans are then detained (Oscar's white assailant isn't noticed as he hides on the train), and when Oscar's shot, his friends struggle and swear against the officers who are carting them off to the police station.

One year earlier, Oscar has to be forcibly detained by prison guards as he tries to follow his mom out of the visitors area, pleading for her to give him a hug.

We see the hurting, bleeding, dying body of the dog that gets hit by the car.

Crude or Profane Language

Not counting the sometimes obscene rap soundtrack layered behind everything, we hear nearly 60 f-words, another 40 or 50 s-words and at least a dozen uses of the n-word. Also: "a‑‑," "b‑‑ch," "d‑‑n," "h‑‑‑" and "p‑‑‑y." God's name is misused at least twice.

Drug and Alcohol Content

As mentioned, Oscar has dabbled in dealing drugs. He stores a bag of marijuana in his closet for a while and makes plans to sell the stuff to someone. He backs out of the deal, though, dumping the bag into the ocean and giving the would-be buyer a smaller stash (as a gift). We see him and others smoke blunts (cigars stuffed with marijuana).

Before going to see the fireworks, Oscar tells his mother that he doesn't plan on drinking. But after Wanda convinces him to take the train into the city instead of driving, he apparently changes his mind: Both he and his friends drink from small whiskey bottles and flasks. The friends talk about getting drunk.

Other Negative Elements

In prison, Oscar must submit to a body cavity search, and we see the side of his bare backside as he bends over for inspection. There's a joking reference to public urination.


We can't truly know why the real Oscar Grant died—not really. The police officer who killed him said in court he only meant to use a Taser on the man, and pulled the gun by mistake. The jury convicted him of involuntary manslaughter, and he served 11 months of his two-year sentence. The NAACP denounced the verdict, stating, "We are outraged that the jury did not find guilty of murder in a case that is so egregiously excessive and mishandled."

But Fruitvale Station doesn't really set out to settle that issue. And it's not trying to retry the case. Questions of what happened down in that station are almost secondary here. Instead, the camera looks unblinkingly at Oscar himself. It turns its narrative to the bleeding body in the station—the life that could've been—and says, simply, What a waste.

In the film, a hundred decisions led to the tragedy. A thousand factors were in play. When Oscar wanted to just go home, Sophina encouraged him to go out. When Oscar wanted to drive, Wanda advised taking the train. And then add in an old foe, Oscar's simmering anger, and a handful of anxious policemen who'd already dealt with a night full of drunks and vandals and violent revelers. In the wake of the result, we're all bound to ask ourselves the inevitable what ifs. But the ifs and whats and even unanswered prayers aren't the focus of Fruitvale Station either. This is: A 22-year-old man lies dead, and a little girl has lost her father.

It's a movie that centers on violence and swirls with obscenities. It's also a powerful movie. It's a movie with an important story to tell, one of a man whose own story should've had chapters and chapters left. It tells us all that our decisions matter. It reminds us of how unfair life can be. It instructs us to look at every single soul around us as a person, not a statistic or a color. And it insists that time should never, ever be wasted. Because none of us knows how much time we have left.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Content Caution





Readability Age Range





Michael B. Jordan as Oscar Grant; Melonie Diaz as Sophina; Octavia Spencer as Wanda; Kevin Durand as Officer Caruso; Chad Michael Murray as Officer Ingram; Ahna O'Reilly as Katie; Ariana Neal as Tatiana; Keenan Coogler as Cato; Trestin George as Brandon


Ryan Coogler


The Weinstein Company



Record Label



In Theaters

July 12, 2013


January 14, 2014

Year Published



Paul Asay

We hope you enjoyed this content. Be sure to share it with family and friends you think will enjoy it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!