The High Note parents guide

The High Note Parent Guide

This is a girl power drama with a disappointingly sentimental conclusion.

Overall C+

Digital on Demand: Grace Davis is a musical megastar. Maggie is just her overworked and ambitious personal assistant. But Maggie sees an opportunity to make her dreams of being a record producer come true when she hears an aspiring young singer.

Release date May 29, 2020

Violence A-
Sexual Content C+
Profanity D
Substance Use C

Why is The High Note rated PG-13? The MPAA rated The High Note PG-13 for some strong language, and suggestive references.

Run Time: 113 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Grace Davis (Tracee Ellis Ross) is a music icon. With 11 Grammy Awards behind her, she’s at a crossroads: listen to her manager and play it safe with a long term contract in Las Vegas or follow her gut and release a new album with the risk that it will flop.

Maggie Sherwoode (Dakota Johnson) has been a fan of Grace’s music as long as she can remember. For the past three years, she’s been Grace’s personal assistant, running her errands by day and editing her hits with a cleaner, more contemporary sound by night.

David Cliff (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) is an aspiring singer/songwriter, playing grocery stores, bar mitzvahs, and community centers in search of his big break. When he and Maggie meet, she is impressed by his talent and convinces him that she’s a producer who can launch his recording career.

Viewers aren’t going to be surprised with how this plot unfolds. Maggie follows the familiar storyline marked out by Aladdin - pretending to be someone you’re not to get what you want. This plot, although unoriginal, delivers a family-friendly message about honesty and integrity. It also provides positive inter-racial relationships with a white character interacting respectfully with a mixed-race cast. It is possible that some viewers will object to Maggie’s character, seeing her as an example of the white savior trope, coming to the rescue of non-white characters. Others might argue that Maggie needs the African American characters who make her success possible. Whatever you think, this is an area that can fuel a thoughtful debate.

Other moviegoers will complain about the film’s negative convent, principally the 50-plus profanities, frequent alcohol consumption, and implied sexual relationship between an unmarried couple. Unfortunately, The High Note, comes with a bigger disappointment than the cussing and boozing. For most of the movie’s runtime I was favorably impressed that the film was passing the Bechdel Test with flying colors. In other words, it features two female characters who have conversations about something other than a man. Even more rarely, it focuses on a middle-aged woman of color with a history of achievement and growth-oriented future plans. Its other main character is a woman who wants to succeed in a male-dominated area and who takes risks to do so. Sadly, the last fifteen minutes of the movie veer away from a girl power trajectory and into a mawkishly sentimental plot twist that turns a decent drama into an annoying, over-sugared piece of emotional manipulation. Let me be clear here – I don’t object to happy endings (in fact, I prefer them) but this film could still achieve a rosy conclusion without the cloying plot contrivance at the end. It’s frustrating that this musical film suddenly goes tone deaf and strikes the wrong note just when it matters most.

Directed by Nisha Ganatra. Starring Dakota Johnson, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Bill Pullman. Running time: 113 minutes. Theatrical release May 29, 2020. Updated

Watch the trailer for The High Note

The High Note
Rating & Content Info

Why is The High Note rated PG-13? The High Note is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for some strong language, and suggestive references.

Violence: Characters yell at each other on a few occasions.
Sexual Content: A man and woman kiss. A man and woman are shown in bed together; sexual activity is implied. Women wear revealing clothing at parties and on stage. Upcoming sexual activity is implied and a woman requests “sexecology oil”.
Profanity: There are over 50 profanities, including two sexual expletives in a non-sexual context, 20 terms of deity, 15 scatological expressions, five anatomical expressions, and ten minor curse words. A couple of slang terms for anatomy are also used.
Alcohol / Drug Use: All characters frequently consume alcohol in social situations. A main character is shown intoxicated. Someone jokes about using “shrooms”. A character offers another some sleeping pills. A minor character jokes about making pills fun.

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The High Note Parents' Guide

Why is Grace afraid to make a new album? Have you ever struggled between taking a risk and playing it safe? What did you decide to do?  Why?


Home Video

The most recent home video release of The High Note movie is August 11, 2020. Here are some details…

Related home video titles:

A woman lies about her qualifications in pursuit of career success in Second Act. Viewers of all ages can watch a homeless street urchin pose as a prince in Aladdin.

In The Devil Wears Prada, a young woman with dreams of becoming a journalist finds herself working as an assistant to an unreasonably demanding magazine editor.

A struggling musician suddenly has a shot at fame when he wakes up from an accident in a world where no one can remember The Beatles in Yesterday. A young Scottish woman struggles to find fame as a country singer in Wild Rose.

Blinded by the Light tells the story of a teenager in 1980s Britain whose life is turned upside down when he discovers Bruce Springsteen’s music.