One Night in Miami parents guide

One Night in Miami Parent Guide

Based on an award winning play, this story fails to jump from the stage to the screen.

Overall C

Amazon: In 1964 four famous Black Americans got together for a discussion after Cassius Clay became boxing's new World Heavyweight Champion. This movie imagines their conversation.

Release date January 15, 2021

Violence C+
Sexual Content B+
Profanity D
Substance Use C

Why is One Night in Miami rated R? The MPAA rated One Night in Miami R

Run Time: 114 minutes

Parent Movie Review

One Night in Miami depicts a fraught discussion on February 25th, 1964 between four prominent African Americans – boxer Cassius Clay (soon to be known as Mohammed Ali and played by Eli Goree), political activist Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), singer Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.), and NFL star Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge). The men are ostensibly celebrating Clay’s victory in the ring but the party is strained. Brown expects an evening of women and booze but Malcolm X is a devout Muslim and his idea of a party involves vanilla ice cream and political exhortation. As Malcolm badgers Cooke to be more visible in the struggle for racial equality, the entertainer becomes defensive and angry. Brown and Clay endeavor to smooth things over and the men debate their perspectives on achieving racial justice in America.

The movie is based on a play by Kemp Powers, whose imagined script was inspired by a real-life meeting between Clay, Brown, Cooke, and Malcolm X. Although One Night in Miami enjoyed an award-winning theatrical run, it struggles on the big screen. The dialogue, despite being frequently clever and insightful, often feels stiff and contrived. The sets are claustrophobic and I felt like I was watching a play: the story never manages to jump off the stage and on to the big screen. And while the acting is generally good, Kinglsey Ben-Adir is underwhelming in his role – to be fair, it’s impossible to match Denzel Washington’s powerhouse performance in the Malcolm X biopic.

If you’re considering sharing this movie with teenagers, you will want to be aware of the 80+ profanities that litter the film as well as frequent scenes of main characters imbibing alcohol. You will also want to consider the glacially slow pace of the film, most of which consists of men sitting and talking in a hotel room.

Watching One Night in Miami is a frustrating exercise, mainly because there’s a better film locked inside. The prologue that sets up the men’s individual stories is effective, as is the conclusion. But the middle of the movie drags, despite the important debates between the main characters. Perhaps director Regina King needs to take some pages out of Aaron Sorkin’s book – his political films keep his characters moving, which ensures his audiences stay awake long enough to absorb his message.

Directed by Regina King. Starring Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, and Leslie Odom Jr. Running time: 114 minutes. Theatrical release January 15, 2021. Updated

Watch the trailer for One Night in Miami

One Night in Miami
Rating & Content Info

Why is One Night in Miami rated R? One Night in Miami is rated R by the MPAA

Violence:   There are several boxing scenes and some involve blood. A house is firebombed and two adults are seen escaping with their children: the man is carrying a firearm. A main character grabs a man by the lapels and pushes him out of the room.
Sexual Content: There is some minor crude conversation about men wanting sex. Men’s bare chests are seen in non-sexual contexts. There is a brief mention of a religious leader’s sexual relationship with his secretaries and underage women.
Profanity:   There are over 80 profanities in the film, including 25 sexual expletives, two dozen scatological terms, and five terms of deity. There are also close to twenty minor curses and a dozen crude anatomical terms, including some for male and female genitalia. There are also several racial slurs levied against Black Americans. 
Alcohol / Drug Use: Main characters are seen consuming alcohol in clubs and diners. Main characters drink beer in a hotel room and drink alcohol straight from the bottle outside a liquor store. They also drink alcohol from a flask. A woman sells cigarettes in a nightclub and a man is seen smoking a cigarette in a few scenes.

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One Night in Miami Parents' Guide

How historically accurate is the movie?

Slate: What’s Fact and What’s Fiction in One Night in Miami?

Biography: The True Story Behind “One Night in Miami”

For more information about the men in the film, check out these links:

Wikipedia: Malcolm X

PBS: Timeline of Malcolm X’s Life

Wikipedia: Muhammad Ali

The Undefeated: Cassius X: Inside Cassius Clay’s Conversion to Islam

Wikipedia: Sam Cooke

PAM: A Change Is Gonna Come, a hymn for Civil Rights

Wikipedia: Jim Brown

The Undefeated: Is there a Colin Kaepernick without a Jim Brown?

Which of the men do you agree with in terms of achieving equality? Do you think economic success is the key? Or do you think political activism is more important?


Home Video

Related home video titles:

In Malcolm X, Denzel Washington depicts the life of the controversial Black activist.

Aaron Sorkin directed The Trial of the Chicago 7, based on the real-life trial of activists who protested against the Vietnam War and for racial justice outside the Democratic National Convention in 1968.