Concrete Cowboy Parent Guide
An unexpected character drama moseys along under a blizzard of profanity.
Parent Movie Review
Growing up in Detroit isn’t easy for anyone, but Cole (Caleb McLaughlin) is really struggling. He’s been expelled from a few schools already, and when he gets kicked out of the latest one for fighting, his mother Amahle (Liz Priestley) has had enough. She sends Cole off to north Philadelphia to spend the summer with his estranged father, Harp (Idris Elba).
Cole doesn’t find life in Philly to be any easier than life in Detroit, and he’s soon hanging around with Smush (Jharrel Jerome), a small-time drug dealer with big dreams…none of which endears him to Harp, who would prefer that Cole spend his time working on the horse stables he maintains. Cole isn’t interested in horses (or the amount of manure they produce), but he does find the stables strangely compelling…
Most parents are going to be immediately deterred by this script’s constant barrage of profanity. It might not set any records, but it’s bad enough that I had to rewind the movie a few times to ensure that my “swear count” was accurate. That is a pretty good indicator that the close to 200 cusses I counted are “too much for a family audience”. There’s also a lot of casual marijuana use, although I should point out that small time possession has been decriminalized in Philly. You might not agree with the decision, but pot use isn’t illegal in this jurisdiction. Whether that bothers you or not isn’t something I’d venture to guess.
Concrete Cowboys is one of those movies that plays with your expectations; namely that it isn’t as wild a ride as you might expect. It’s not a crime thriller about Cole and Smush: it’s a family drama and is paced accordingly. That said, the slower pacing means more time to flesh out the characters’ motivations, which is the only way a story like this can be compelling. You can’t focus on characters for as long as this movie does and get away with lazy two-dimensional personalities. Thankfully, these characters are interesting, complex, and intriguing. Idris Elba is, as usual, spectacular, but he’s aided by a cast that includes a lot of the real cowboys from the Fletcher Street urban stables. It’s hard to come by that kind of authenticity as an actor, so this is a huge bonus to the tone and character of the film as a whole.
Concrete Cowboy still isn’t what I’d call family entertainment, but it is a good character drama with important messages about home, family, and self esteem. If you’re not deterred by the bombardment of profanity, this movie could provide a quieter, more introspective viewing epxerience. viewing experience. You can saddle up and enjoy the ride.Directed by Ricky Staub. Starring Idris Elba, Lorraine Toussaint, and Caleb McLaughlin. Running time: 111 minutes. Theatrical release April 2, 2021. Updated October 2, 2021
Watch the trailer for Concrete Cowboy
Rating & Content Info
Why is Concrete Cowboy rated R? Concrete Cowboy is rated R by the MPAA for language throughout, drug use and some violence.
Violence: There are references to fighting. Several individuals are shown hitting one another in a brawl. One person is shot and killed.
Sexual Content: None.
Profanity: There are 84 uses of extreme profanity, 97 uses of scatological curses, and occasional use of mild profanity and terms of deity. There is also frequent use of racial slurs.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Individuals are shown drinking socially. Adults and teens are shown smoking both tobacco and marijuana, which is decriminalized for minor personal possession in the city of Philadelphia.
Page last updated October 2, 2021
Concrete Cowboy Parents' Guide
Cowboy culture has been whitewashed in popular culture, with its origins in communities of color largely ignored or replaced. Who are some famous cowboys who weren’t white? What was involved in the job? What was life like as a cowboy?
Smithsonian Magazine: The Lesser-Known History of African-American Cowboys
YouTube: The Guardian: Why the first US cowboys were black
BBC News: America’s forgotten black cowboys
Horses are still a part of modern society, although much less than they used to be. What are some common modern situations where horses are still used? What kind of legislation exists to protect horses?