Just Mercy is a powerful film based on a true story about the injustice of the justice system when plagued with racism and bias. However, is Just Mercy family friendly? I don’t think Just Mercy is kid friendly for young children based on the content, but I do think it’s an important movie for families to watch if you have older children. Let’s take a look at the violence, language, and mature content in Just Mercy.
Is Just Mercy Safe for Kids?
Just Mercy is a heavy movie with little action, but a lot of dialogue and difficult scenes to watch. The movie is based on the true story of Bryan Stevenson, a Harvard graduate, who moves to Alabama to help form the Equal Justice Initiative, a non-profit organization giving legal counsel to those who can’t afford it.
Stevenson says he just wants to help people. He comes across Walter McMillian, also known as Johnny D, who is on Death Row for murder, but there is no evidence.
There is a bit of language in Just Mercy with some racial slurs. I counted at least 13 uses of sh**, 6 uses of damn, 2 uses of bullsh**, 1 use of g-d damn, 6 uses of a**, 1 son of a bi**h, 4 uses of nig*er, and 7 hells.
There are some scenes with police brutality and a gun held to someone’s head. A man is executed in the electric chair, but you don’t see the actual death.
The whole premise of the movie is mature. There are discussions of Death Row, racism, inequality, bias, corruption, war, the Death Penalty, family, infidelity, murder, etc. In one scene Bryan is asked to remove his clothing for a strip search. He gets down to his boxers.
Why You Should Take Your Family to Just Mercy
Just Mercy is rated PG-13 for for thematic content including some racial epithets. I would recommend it for ages 13 and up. If you feel your tween can handle the emotional weight of the film, then I would even say ages 10 and up.
I read the book Just Mercy a couple of years ago, and I’m not over exaggerating when I say it changed my life. How? Because it caused me to reflect on my attitudes, speech, and thoughts toward racism. Was I part of the problem? Was I part of the solution?
The movie causes the same reflection and discussion. Is Just Mercy kid friendly? It’s not friendly at all, and it’s not meant to be. It urges difficult conversations and argues why we need to change the criminal justice system. This is why I recommend families see it.
If you’re hesitant to watch or think it might make you uncomfortable, then that’s why you should see it. The book goes into more detail about the laws and struggles Bryan Stevenson was up against. But the emotional rawness of the characters are real. Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx show restraint in their anger which sometimes makes me want to scream, but also shows the patience one needs to go up against Goliath when the odds are stacked against you.
The entire cast is phenomenal.
As I sat in the theater, watching a black man wrongfully accused sitting on Death Row with no evidence in the 1980s and 1990s, I wondered how far we’ve come. And if we have at all.
I heard the woman sitting next to me quietly sing the songs an inmate sang in prison. I heard another woman gasp and sigh at a familiar story. And in the end, the theater burst into grateful applause for bringing this story to light. And for showing that not all heroes wear capes.
There are more details I wish we received, especially after reading the book, but I hope Just Mercy inspires us to make a change and not repeat our mistakes. One of my favorite Just Mercy movie quotes came from Bryan Stevenson, “We all need justice. We all need mercy. And perhaps we need some measure of unmerited grace.”
Take your family to see Just Mercy, and let’s give everyone a little more grace.