Becoming Parent Guide
Now on Netflix: An inspiring documentary about the power of overcoming and becoming.
Parent Movie Review
At Parent Previews, we understand that our readers have a variety of strongly held political beliefs. Our review of this film is not meant as an endorsement for or against any political party but simply discusses the movie on its merits.
A few months ago, Michelle Obama was voted the “most admired woman” in the world in an annual poll. The reasons for her enduring popularity are easy to spot in Becoming, a documentary that mashes together a retrospective look at her life with behind-the-scenes coverage of her 32 city book tour in 2019.
I have read and thoroughly enjoyed Michelle’s best-selling memoir, also titled Becoming. Split into three parts that cover her early life, marriage, and years as First Lady, it’s a great read – warm, funny, honest, and illuminating. Sadly, this documentary, while a pleasurable viewing experience, doesn’t achieve the depth of the book. It struggles with trying to determine what kind of film it wants to be. Is it a biopic of Michelle Obama? Or is it a promotional piece for Mrs. Obama’s post-White House role? In trying to do both, it fails to excel at either.
Don’t get me wrong, this movie is still worth watching. The biographical segments where Obama reminisces on her childhood and family history are warm and inspirational. Her frank discussions of the work she and Barack put into their marriage are funny and touching. A feature length movie that took a deeper dive into her life, particularly her attempts to balance motherhood with her career and her husband’s political aspirations, would be even better. The segments dedicated to the book tour are also interesting, but the best parts are where she visits with students and young community leaders. Had this been split into two movies, a full length production that spent more time going into the teens’ backstories would have been more compelling.
Even in its slightly schizophrenic format, Becoming provides plenty of family-friendly content with messages that most parents will be happy to share with their tweens and teens. Obama models respectful interactions with an enormous variety of people, focusing intently on each individual and honoring their stories and experiences. “It’s like an emotional sociological dance with people,” she says. “It’s important to make sure I take every person as they come up.” She provides constant encouragement for young people, encouraging them to pursue their dreams, focus on goals despite adversity, and remember that they are never invisible.
The most moving parts of the film are the times where she lowers her guard and discusses the difficult aspects of her time as First Lady. Obama speaks of the enormous strain of trying to be perfect all the time, in case any mistake is used as “proof” that African Americans are incapable of holding high office. And she reflects on the pain she felt when her words were taken out of context and used to malign her personality or motives. “The only thing I can do is share that that does hurt. Because if we walk around pretending like it doesn’t hurt, the perpetrators say, “Oh, I was joking. It’s just politics.” No, no, no. That changes the shape of a person’s soul.” Perhaps these painful experiences are what motivate her to avoid becoming the perpetrator of the same type of behavior and to enunciate her oft-quoted dictum: “When they go low, we go high.” Think of what politics would look like if everyone took those words to heart….Directed by Nadia Hallgren. Starring Michelle Obama, Barack Obama, Marian Robinson. Running time: 89 minutes. Theatrical release May 6, 2020. Updated August 31, 2020
Watch the trailer for Becoming
Rating & Content Info
Why is Becoming rated PG? Becoming is rated PG by the MPAA for some thematic elements and brief language
Violence: There is mention of innocent people who were killed by police or fellow citizens. There is mention of a mass shooting. There is mention of a person shooting at the White House. A poster with a noose and threatening message is seen.
Sexual Content: A husband and wife kiss on a few occasions. A woman discusses her pride in marriage equality.
Profanity: None noted.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adults drink wine with dinner.
Page last updated August 31, 2020
Becoming Parents' Guide
Michelle Obama repeatedly tells young people that they need to believe in themselves and encourages them to see themselves achieving their dreams. What dreams do you have for your future? What do you need to do to make those dreams come true?
The Obamas have dedicated their post-White House careers to the work of the Obama Foundation, which is focused on developing the next generation of civic and community leaders. Are any of the initiatives described in the following link interesting to you?
The Obama Foundation: Our Mission
Loved this movie? Try these books…
Michelle Obama’s best selling memoir is entitled Becoming. Peter Slevin wrote a biography of her, Michelle Obama: A Life. For more from the Obamas, you can read Barack and Michelle Obama Farewell Speeches.
For photo histories of Michelle Obama’s tenure as First Lady, you can flip through Chasing Light: Michelle Obama Through the Lens of a White House Photographer and Reach Higher: An Inspiring Photo Celebration of First Lady Michelle Obama. Both are by Amanda Lucidon.
Life as the First Lady is glamorous but filled with challenges. Retired White House chief usher J.B. West reminisces about his experiences in Upstairs at the White House: My Life with the First Ladies. For a richly photographed book, check out The Smithsonian First Ladies Collection, which provides a look at the museum’s most popular exhibit. For a fun and sometimes just plain weird look at the women who ran the White House, you can read Cormac O’Brien’s Secret Lives of the First Ladies: What our Teachers Never Told You About the Women of the White House. The first 45 First Ladies are described by historians in First Ladies: Presidential Historians on the Lives of 45 Iconic American Women. Written by Susan Swain, the book uses extensive research to draw a rich portrait.
The most recent home video release of Becoming movie is May 6, 2020. Here are some details…
Related home video titles:
The first date between Barack Obama and Michelle Robinson has been made into a movie entitled Southside With You.
The Obamas’ production company is also responsible for American Factory (which won a 2019 Academy Award), and Crip Camp.Both are streaming on Netflix.