Richard Williams (Will Smith) had a plan, a 78-page plan that he outlined with his wife, Brandy (Aunjanue Ellis), before his two youngest daughters Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena (Demi Singleton) were born. A plan that would educate the girls and allow them to rise above the crippling poverty that surrounded them; a plan that would gain them entrance into a predominately ‘white’ sport and would help the girls become two of the greatest tennis players the world has ever seen, forging a path set to inspire many youngsters around the world, especially African American girls, who would likewise face hardship and discrimination along the path to greatness.
However, raising five girls, including two tennis prodigies, in the ghetto of Compton, California, required more than just a plan. It required ingenuity – everything from fishing used balls out of garbage bins; to making promotional videos to try to get the girls a coach who would train them for free; to hijacking a tennis lesson in order to get them noticed. It required persistence in the face of countless refusals to help or listen or even to see the incredible talent the girls possessed. It required fortitude and humility as Richard and his family stayed the course, refusing to sign for money, refusing to be lured by fame, refusing to accept any offer that didn’t have his daughters’ best interests at heart. Ultimately, their patience and efforts paid off as they showed the world another way, perhaps a better way, to do things.
Racism; the perils of life in a ghetto; police brutality; tough love; overcoming adversity.
King Richard has some violence. For example:
- Richard tells about how he had to run from the Ku Klux Klan, the police and white boys when he was a child as one of them was, ‘always beating on him’.
- Two gangsters start punching Richard when he asks them to stop harassing his daughter. His daughters witness the attack.
- Richard punches a gang member who makes a crude comment about his young daughter.
- All members of the gang attack Richard, punching and kicking him repeatedly as he lay on the ground. One gang member urges another to “smoke him” (kill him) while he holds a gun to his head. The gangster then pistol-whips Richard unconscious.
- Richard later goes searching for the gang members with a gun, apparently intent on shooting the guy himself. He is saved the trouble when his intended victim is gunned down in a drive-by shooting.
- Footage is shown of police officers attacking a black man as he lay on the ground.
- Richard tells Venus how his father made him give a white man money when he was just a little boy and how he accidentally touched the white man’s hand while passing it to him. He describes how a group of grown men beat him into the ground and how he saw his father watching and then how he witnessed his father simply walk away.
King Richard features some sexual references. For example:
- A neighbour’s daughter is rumoured to be a prostitute.
- A gangster makes a crude comment to Richard about his 16-year-old daughter getting raped, saying how he and his boys will swing past the Williams’ place later to 'train' on her.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
King Richard features some use of substances. For example:
- A minor character smokes a large cigar.
- Cigarettes are mentioned in a song.
- A famous tennis player is shown in news footage with claims of drug use including marijuana, heroin and cocaine.
Nudity and sexual activity
King Richard features no nudity or sexual activity.
The products displayed or used in King Richard include Everlast, Fila, Nike, Reebok, Gatorade and Puma.
King Richard has some coarse language.
Ideas to discuss with your children
King Richard is a story about hard work and determination, overcoming obstacles, and triumph in the face of adversity and discrimination. While some of the content is not suitable for younger viewers, it is an incredibly powerful story, especially for girls. It is recommended for teens of all ages to remind them of the power they possess to leave a positive mark on the world and lead the way for others.
These are the main messages from King Richard:
- There is nothing more powerful in the world than an educated female who knows her mind and goes after what she wants
- It is important to dream big, work hard and to have a plan.
Values in King Richard that you could reinforce with your child include humility, persistence, determination, courage, respect and patience.
King Richard could also give you the chance to talk with your children about the importance of attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences. For example:
- The insidious effects of racism and treating people differently because of the colour of their skin.
- Parents forcing their children to perform or play sports because it is something they want and not what the child wants.
- Working or training so hard that burnout occurs.
- Choosing to join a gang, or participate in life on the street as opposed to fostering connection within your family.
- Dealing with incredible pressure and learning to address it in a positive way.