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Movie Review

Starting a new life is never easy, especially when it’s against your will.

Natasha Kingsley and her family have lived in New York City for nine years. Nine years of making friends, going to school and dreaming of a better life and future plans. But those plans get cut short when they get the word that they’ll be deported back to Jamaica.

Tomorrow.

Distraught and confused, Natasha seeks help from a local immigration office that promises her the possibility of more time in the U.S. All she needs to do is come back in a few hours and advocate for her family.

In order to pass the time, Natasha wanders around New York lost in thought. So lost in thought, in fact, that she is nearly hit by a car before a handsome stranger named Daniel saves her life. A poetic romantic, Daniel was on his way to interview for a spot at Dartmouth when he lunged to save Natasha. And with just one look into her eyes, he’s in love.

Too bad Natasha doesn’t believe in love. Unless you can prove it with the scientific method, it’s not real, she believes. But Daniel is willing to take his chances.

And if she’ll give him just one day, he promises to make her fall in love.

Positive Elements

Natasha is a beautiful teen who has high hopes and dreams in the United States. And while she may be a pessimist when it comes to romantic love, she loves her family deeply and her family loves her the same way. Her parents are hardworking Jamaican immigrants who've devoted their time and resources to giving their children a better life.

Daniel, for his part, is a romantic to the core. He believes in the power of love and works hard to convince Natasha that it’s real. Daniel also encourages her to pursue her passion for astronomy. Ironically, Daniel longs to pursue his own passion for poetry, but he feels the need to please his Asian-American parents, who expect him to become a doctor. Daniel’s father reminds him of the importance of honoring their family name with his career choice, and of placing value on one’s family instead of embracing Western-style individualist beliefs.

When Daniel’s brother and father make racist comments about Natasha, she responds graciously as she makes choices to either ignore them or to stand up for herself. Elsewhere, an immigration lawyer offers to help Natasha, pro bono.

When a train breaks down on the subway, its operator calms passengers by reminding them of the brevity of life and the importance of cherishing each moment. Daniel volunteers at a children’s hospital in the Bronx where he writes poems with patients to distract them from their pain.

The intertwining of lives is a huge theme throughout the film.

Spiritual Content

The ideas of fate and destiny are primary themes throughout the entire movie. Daniel believes in both, while Natasha believes in neither. Daniel’s main goal is to convince Natasha that both are real and that they play a very active role in life. He does this when he tells Natasha that they were fated to meet, that the “Universe” wants them to be together and that she should open her heart to “destiny.”

Natasha wears a sweatshirt that reads “Deus ex Machina” (a Latin phrase referring to the idea of God interfering with the likely outcome of a story). This saying is something that Daniel repeats to himself at the beginning of the movie, suggesting that a “higher power” is in control of seemingly random events.

Daniel urges Natasha to choose openness to the idea of fate. Natasha attributes the creation of the universe to the Big Bang Theory and discusses the “theory of multiverse.”

Sexual Content

Daniel hints at wanting to have sex with Natasha a few times (and even says it aloud once) and when they finally get alone, they make out as the camera pans in on her on top of him and of him grabbing her rear. As the movie progresses, the two fall asleep together in a park overnight.

Daniel, a romantic poet, talks about the common theme of sex and love in poetry. Daniel lies on his bed with his shirt open and walks around town with his shirt slightly unbuttoned. Daniel apologizes for not having a “sexy” first date with Natasha.

Daniel and his brother (Charlie) get into an argument in which they crudely talk about the size of their genitals. Later, Charlie makes a rude comment about Daniel’s genitals, and he provokes Daniel by telling him he’d have sex with Natasha and asks Natasha if she has an “Asian fetish.” Natasha dreams about a future with Daniel where they get married and have a baby.

Couples confess their love to one another, kiss, make-out, flirt, hold hands and hug. And, of course, as with any teen romance, Natasha and Daniel engage in a lot of love-struck gazing.

Violent Content

An aggressive driver clips a man on a bike (he falls to the ground and is eventually taken the hospital and given a splint), and nearly hits Natasha. Daniel and Charlie get into a fist fight and end up with cuts on their faces and lips.

Natasha, a realist and pessimist, voices her hopeless outlook on life: “Everyone dies in the end.” A flashback shows Natasha protesting the use of guns.

Crude or Profane Language

A teen yells the f-word. The s-word is uttered five times. God’s name is misused three times, and other profanities include one or two uses each of “a--hole,” “bada--,” “a--,” “b--ch,” “d--n,” “h---” and “d--k.”

Daniel tells his rude brother to “shut up.”

Drug and Alcohol Content

None.

Other Negative Elements

Daniel’s brother, Charlie, evidently despises his own race as well as black people. Charlie aims numerous crude racial slurs and stereotypes at Natasha related to her skin color and hair.

A flashback shows Natasha and her friends stealing candy from a local store as a child.

Conclusion

This romantic teen drama feels like a combination of The Fault in Our Stars and Midnight Sun. Except with really awkward pauses, ill-fitting content and acting that just wasn’t believable. At times, it felt like no one knew what they really wanted to say. And to top it off, the entire premise revolves around two teens falling in love in just one day (never mind that they basically know nothing about one another).

To its credit, some sweet moments focus on the importance of family, chasing your dreams and opening your heart to love and change. But this angst-filled story's positive themes are drowned out by some harsh profanity, racial slurs and suggestive conversations.

Sometimes the effect of a movie like The Sun is also a Star is to idolize relationships. It can give teen girls and young women a warped sense of love, encouraging them to believe that forever happens in just one day. Encourage your daughter by discussing these ideas:

5 Lies that Can Destroy Your Daughter

Craving the Right Things

Build a Strong Sense of Identity in Your Kids

Parents Sharing Past Moral Failings With Kids

Crushed: Why Guys Don’t Have to Make or Break You

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Yara Shahidi as Natasha Kingsley; Charles Melton as Daniel Bae; Keong Sim as Dae Hyun Bae; Gbenga Akinnagbe as Samuel Kingsley; Jake Choi as Charlie Bae; Cathy Shim as Min Soo Bae; Camrus Johnson as Omar; Miriam A. Hyman as Patricia Kingsley; Jordan Williams as Peter Kingsley

Director

Ry Russo-Young ( )

Distributor

Warner Bros.

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

May 17, 2019

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Kristin Smith

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults
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