Brian Banks Parent Guide
An inspiring, family-friendly film about one man's journey to overcome terrible injustice.
Parent Movie Review
All Brian Banks (Aldis Hodge) ever wanted to do was play football. Growing up in a disadvantaged neighborhood, he was used to facing opposition and tackling racial prejudice. Fortunately his talent on the gridiron presented a game plan for freedom. When he was offered a football scholarship at the age of sixteen, his dreams of one day playing in the NFL looked like they might be within reach.
Yet all that promise goes afoul when Brian accepts a flirtatious invitation from a fellow high school student, Kennisha Rice (Xosha Roquemore), to fool around in a quiet stairwell. After a few moments of kissing and fondling, the couple hears someone approaching their hiding place. Brian bolts, quickly forgetting the entire interlude. But Kennisha cries rape.
Her allegations results in Brian’s arrest, where some heavy-handed policemen drag him from his home. The seriousness of her claim, which now also includes kidnapping, leads officials to try the youth as an adult. The advice of his legal counsel persuades Brian to make a plea bargain that still gives him a long prison sentence, a lengthy parole period and being registered as a sex offender for life.
Based on a true story, Brian’s plight highlights some of the real injustices of the criminal conviction process. With dogged determination, the wrongfully incarcerated man asks for help from lawyer Justin Brooks (played by Greg Kinnear), founder of the California Innocence Project, to help him clear his name.
Although the legal battle and its associated challenges (which include some artistic license) contribute to an interesting script, the real power of this story is Brian’s personal journey to overcome the anger in his soul because of the unfair accusations. Grappling to make sense of his hopeless situation, Brian receives some mentoring while behind bars from a kind councilor (played by Morgan Freeman). His words, “All you can control in life is how you respond to life,” is advice that may have a powerful impact on movie viewers too.
Demonstrating both the tenacity of the human spirit and the good that can be done when one person is willing to fight against a broken system, Brian Banks is an inspirational film for teens and adults.Directed by Tom Shadyac. Starring Aldis Hodge, Greg Kinnear, and Sherri Shepherd.. Running time: 99 minutes. Theatrical release August 9, 2019. Updated August 14, 2019
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Rating & Content Info
Why is Brian Banks rated PG-13? Brian Banks is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for thematic content and related images, and for language.
Violence: Police are shown using physical force while making arrests. A mother is restrained by law enforcement officers when her son is arrested and dragged out of her home. Inmates in a prison have a knife (a possible stabbing is implied). A character punches another and causes bodily harm. A 17-year-old boy is put in solitary confinement for 60 days. An angry and frustrated character hits inanimate objects. Tackling on the football field is seen. Characters lie.
Sexual Content: A character is accused of sexual assault. The terms rape and loss of virginity are used. Sexual relations with and without consent are discussed. A teenaged boy and girl are shown kissing and fondling: she touches his crotch and tries to remove his pants.
Profanity: Two uses of a strong sexual expletive. Infrequent use of mild and moderate profanities, terms of deity and sexual slang.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Social drinking is seen in a bar setting.
Page last updated August 14, 2019
Brian Banks Parents' Guide
Learn more about the real Brian Banks. Read Brian Banks memoir, What Set Me Free: A True Story of Wrongful Conviction, a Dream Deferred, and a Man Redeemed. (Check our book recommendations below for a hyperlink to the book.)
Brian Banks’ case is not an isolated experience. Sadly, African Americans are wrongfully arrested, prosecuted, and convicted at astoundingly high rates.
African Americans are more likely to be wrongfully convicted than white Americans:
Article from Vox.com
African Americans are more likely to be incarcerated than whites:
African Americans receive longer sentences for the same crimes:
Article from Center for American Progress
Article from The Washington Post
A history of miscarriages of justice against African Americans:
Article from The Innocence Project
Why do you think African Americans fail to receive equal treatment in the criminal justice system?
Research from The Washington Post
Analysis from The Guardian
What do you think should be done to reform the criminal justice system to prevent more wrongful convictions?
Report from The Innocence Project
Loved this movie? Try these books…
Brian Banks tells his story in What Set Me Free, a book he co-wrote with Mark Dagostino.
Bryan Stevenson recounts his lifelong fight against the wrongful conviction and execution of African Americans in his powerful book, Just Mercy. A version for young adults has also been published: Just Mercy: A True Story of the Fight for Justice.
If you’ve ever wondered how wrongful convictions occur so frequently in a system that is built on the presumption of innocence, you will want to read Blind Injustice: A Former Prosecutor Exposes the Psychology and Politics of Wrongful Convictions. This first person account is written by Mark Godsey, a former prosecutor who now works as a lawyer for the Ohio Innocence Project.
For a longer reading list on this topic, check out this list by the Innocence Project.
Related home video titles:
Another black man is falsely accused of sexual assault in If Beale Street Could Talk. (This is a Restricted film with some sexually explicit material so it is not suitable for family viewing.)
The Hate U Give is a searing look at the problem of police shootings of African Americans and the effect on the community.
The classic film about miscarriages of justice and African Americans is To Kill a Mockingbird. In this beloved film, Atticus Finch defends Tom Robinson from a false charge of sexual assault.
Another film that focuses on how the criminal justice system treats minorities is 12 Angry Men. In this remake of the classic movie, jurors struggle to determine a verdict in a case of murder.
Wrongful conviction of African American defendants is a recurring problem within the American justice system. To learn about one man’s struggle against this miscarriage of justice, you can watch True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality on this free HBO streaming link: Click here to watch.