Amazing Grace parents guide

Amazing Grace Parent Guide

For fans of Aretha Franklin or gospel music, this is a must-see film.

Overall A

This documentary shows Aretha Franklin's performance at the New Bethel Baptist Church in Watts, Los Angeles as she recorded her live gospel album "Amazing Grace".

Release date April 5, 2019

Violence A
Sexual Content A
Profanity A
Substance Use A

Why is Amazing Grace rated G? The MPAA rated Amazing Grace G

Run Time: 87 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Composed entirely of previously unreleased documentary footage, Amazing Grace relives the recording and performance of Aretha Franklin’s live album of the same name. The archival footage and audio present to the audience a surprisingly immersive experience, taking them directly to the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Watts, Los Angeles, in 1972.

One of the important things to note here is that this is not a biopic or dramatization. All footage is presented as is, with no narration, commentary, or alteration. As such, this is essentially 40-year-old footage of a live concert. Don’t go in expecting a Bohemian Rhapsody-like dramatic epic, because that’s not what Amazing Grace is trying to be.

That said, there is a lot of value in what the film presents. Production and filming aside, the music is amazing and beautiful, and enhanced by the joyous audience response and participation. Aretha Franklin, being Aretha Franklin, sings the house down. The Southern California Community Choir, led by Alexander Hamilton (no, not that Alexander Hamilton) and Reverend James Cleveland also do an incredible job.

On the other hand, the film can be a little dry, especially for kids. Since this hasn’t been dramatized at all, you kind of have to look at it like a concert. While the footage is interesting to me as a history geek, I don’t imagine that’s a sentiment shared by most kids. Otherwise, there’s absolutely nothing for parents to be concerned about. Taking place over the course of two days entirely in a church, with the entirety of the movie being filled with religious music, there’s not much for anyone to object to.

For fans of Aretha Franklin, or gospel music in general, Amazing Grace is a must-see film. For younger or less patient audiences, this might be a good time to slip off and see something a little faster and more dramatic. But if you can get past the admittedly dry premise, the music makes the whole thing shine.

Directed by Alan Elliott and Sydney Pollack. Starring Aretha Franklin, Reverand James Cleveland, and the Southern California Community Choir. Running time: 87 minutes. Theatrical release April 5, 2019. Updated

Watch the trailer for Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace
Rating & Content Info

Why is Amazing Grace rated G? Amazing Grace is rated G by the MPAA

Violence: None
Sexual Content: None
Profanity: None
Alcohol / Drug Use: None

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Amazing Grace Parents' Guide

Amazing Grace is a beloved hymn that has moved people since it was published in 1779. Is there a piece of music – religious or secular – that has a powerful effect on you? Why?

Amazing Grace has been recorded by numerous singers and choirs. Do you have a favorite version? Do any of the following versions appeal to you? Why?

Judy Collins

Mahalia Jackson

Harlem Gospel Choir

Whitney Houston

Il Divo

Andrea Bocelli

Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Ray Charles

The Piano Guys

Loved this movie? Try these books…

For more information about Aretha Franklin, check out David Ritz’s biography Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin. Younger readers can turn to Nico Medina’s Who Was Aretha Franklin?

Amazing Grace, the hymn, was written by John Newton, a slave trader who found God and devoted his life to ending the slave trade. For a fictional biography of this remarkable man, turn to Joe Musser’s The Infidel: A Novel Based on the Life of John Newton. A more historically accurate picture of Newton’s life is found in Jonathan Aitken’s biography, John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace.

Home Video

Related home video titles:

Audiences looking for a musical biopic can watch Ray, the story of Ray Charles.

The hymn sung by Aretha Franklin has had a powerful influence on people for centuries. Amazing Grace is a political biopic of William Wilberforce, a British politician who devoted his life to ending slavery in the British Empire.

Other films that have made brilliant use of archival footage include Apollo 11 and They Shall Not Grow Old.