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.


    No Rating Available

Watch This Review

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Movie Review

Tish and Fonny fell in love.

But theirs was certainly no typical boy-meets-girl story of a random encounter, steamy glances and flaring passions. It was better. Far better.

You see, Tish and Fonny had known each other since childhood. They used to play together, romp in the mud together, bathe together. They cared for each other, matter-of-factly, almost as if they were siblings. The truth of it is, their love came to a boil very slowly. It warmed and bubbled degree by degree, until one day they were both flush with its fire.

One thing led to another. Love deepened. Plans were made. And Tish and Fonny were sure that their romance would endure. They'll marry, they thought, start their family and thrive.

But some other unexpected events occur in a whirlwind rush: Fonny is accused of rape, picked out of a police line-up and sent to jail thanks to the manipulation of a racist cop he'd crossed. And Tish realizes she's pregnant and left without a partner.

Like a punch to the gut, Tish is left gasping. And just as love with Fonny seemed about to blossom to the full, they both must grapple with the brutal reality of hate and its terrible consequences for their lives.

Positive Elements

It's obvious from the start that Tish and Fonny are deeply in love. And though they don't marry before Fonny is incarcerated, they speak of their plans to do so. They even call each other "my wife" and "my husband" during visitations at the prison. "I belong to you," Fonny assures Tish.

Flashing backwards a bit, when 19-year-old Tish tells her family members about her pregnancy, her mom, dad and sister are all taken aback by the news. But they quickly embrace her with loving care, demonstrating their support and willingness to stand up for her. They also do their best to help get Fonny out of prison, calling in favors, traveling to track down witnesses and scraping together whatever money they can.

When Tish begins to crumple under the strain of things, her mother tells her, "Love is what brought you here. And if you trusted love this far, trust it all the way."

On Fonny's side of the family, his dad expresses similar support. He hugs and congratulates Tish and speaks of his deep love for his son.

Spiritual Content

Fonny's mother is a Christian, and she mentions that she prays repeatedly for her son to see the light and "surrender his soul to Jesus." That said, she's also portrayed as a mean-spirited woman who wields her understanding of faith spitefully to condemn and belittle others. For example, she tells Tish that "the Holy Ghost" will cause Tish's illegitimate baby to shrivel in her womb.

Tish prays before a meal with Fonny and a friend. The couple's young son prays before eating a snack with his dad, and the boy asks for Jesus' blessing. A Jewish man (who's wearing a kippah) and a Jewish woman both go out of their way to treat Fonny and Tish fairly. The man states that his live-and-let-live attitude was learned under his mother's instruction.

Sexual Content

We watch Tish and Fonny's physical relationship grow from a first kiss to (eventually) impassioned lovemaking. Two sex scenes (one of which is quite lengthy) include garments being removed, breast nudity, bare torsos, and explicit sounds and movements.

Later, Tish (who's obviously unclothed) gives birth in a tub full of water, though we see only her bare shoulders and knees. (In another flashback, we see Tish and Fonny playing in a bathtub together, both wearing underwear.)

While working at a perfume counter, Tish is revolted as a white man seductively lifts her perfume-sprayed hand to his nose and lingers there with a creepy gaze in his eye.

A woman accuses Fonny of raping her, even though he was on the other side of town at the time.

Violent Content

When Fonny's mother tracks down his accuser and grabs her shoulder, the woman (who apparently has been physically abused) screams in agony and crumples to the floor.

Fonny's father, Frank, strikes his wife in the face and drives her to the floor after she says hurtful things to Tish. On a visit to prison, Tish discovers Fonny is bruised and bloodied from a beating he took there.

In a flashback, we see an encounter where a white man got physically aggressive with Tish, prompting Fonny to grab him by the scruff of the neck and throw him into a pile of trash.

Crude or Profane Language

Ten f-words and some 20 s-words join a handful of uses each of "d--n," "h---," "a--" and "b--tard." Someone mixes "Holy Spirit" with the word "d--ned." The n-word is used four or five times, and the c-word is used once. We also hear several crude references to male genitalia.

Drug and Alcohol Content

People smoke throughout, including Fonny, an artist who's often seen puffing profusely as he works on various sculptures. Fonny offers a guest "pot, beer or coffee." A room full of elderly people all smoke and drink alcohol.

When Tish breaks the news of her pregnancy to her family, her mom breaks out a bottle of cognac, and the family toasts to "new life." Tish's dad, Joseph, and Fonny's father, Frank, go to a bar together, drinking and smoking while discussing their kids' future. Fonny downs multiple beers with an old friend as well.

Other Negative Elements

Tish talks about the plight of blacks in America, saying: “The kids had been told that they weren’t worth sh--, and everything they saw around them proved it. They struggled, they struggled, but they fell, like flies, and they congregated on the garbage heaps of their lives, like flies.”

The film uses that lyrical statement, as well as images of black destitution and physical abuse, to imply that crimes committed by blacks are sometimes justified due to such an oppressive racial climate. The film also strongly states that because of white hatred and oppression, justice for blacks is nearly impossible.

As an illustration of those points of view, Frank and Joseph begin to steal and sell stolen goods out of the back of a van in order to raise what little money they can to defend a falsely accused Fonny. "The white man ain't met nobody they ain't robbed from," Joseph declares in justification.

A racist white police officer—who is a truly rancid individual—seems to be used as a representation of the "white man" of the world.


Director Barry Jenkins' critically acclaimed 2016 film Moonlight took home several Oscars, including awards for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. Without question, Jenkins is adept at painting vivid and immersive emotional pictures with his films, a skill set that's evident once again in If Beale Street Could Talk.

Not only is this movie a love-letter adaptation of writer James Baldwin's 1974 novel of the same name, but to a certain extent, it's a love story: a well-crafted and adoring examination of black family life and love. We see family members who cherish and endure, and we watch people struggling against difficult situations, clinging to each other and pushing back against a terrible injustice. Those story moments are undeniably powerful.

But those potent musings on love, family and commitment are not all this film showcases. It also decries the racist reality that its characters feel hopelessly trapped within.

Some of the injustices they face here are horrific and indefensible. That said, the film also paints its picture of racial injustice with a very broad brush. At times, it feels as if it implicates anyone who's white as being an agent of racist oppression. For instance, a friend of Fonny's declares, "The white man has got to be the devil, because he sure as h--- ain’t no man." Similar messages are voiced repeatedly by the film and its characters. And there's no call here for anything like racial healing, harmony or reconciliation.

So when that heavy-handed message is mingled with ample helpings of profanity and sexually explicit imagery, the result is problematic. If Beale Street Could Talk is a movie that many might talk about, but it's a love story that's also difficult to embrace.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range



KiKi Layne as Tish Rivers; Stephan James as Alonzo 'Fonny' Hunt; Regina King as Sharon Rivers; Colman Domingo as Joseph Rivers; Michael Beach as Frank Hunt; Teyonah Parris as Ernestine Rivers


Barry Jenkins ( )


Annapurna Pictures



Record Label



In Theaters

December 14, 2018

On Video

March 26, 2019

Year Published



Bob Hoose

Content Caution

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!