"Train Up a Child in the Way He Should Go"
LUV is something of a morality tale about how to and how not to raise a child. It contains strong moral elements and some Christian references to Jesus and prayer, but the ending is a little mixed. Even so, the movie may serve as a reminded of how important it is to train children in proper behavior and morality. However, there’s too much foul language and some very strong, intense violence.
Michael Rainey Jr. delivers a stunning debut performance as an 11-year-old boy named Woody, who lives with his grandmother. Woody is supposed to be taken to school by his Uncle Vincent but finds himself instead running the streets of Baltimore with his uncle over the course of a day and night.
Vincent is freshly out of prison from drug and violent charges, but wants to go straight by opening a giant crab restaurant on the Baltimore harbor. In an effort to get some money for that, however, he falls immediately into shady behavior, bribing a friend to get him false credit reports and ID before a bank meeting about a business loan. He takes Woody everywhere he goes over the course of the day. The bank tells Vincent he needs to come up with $22,000 in three days or lose out on a much bigger loan. As a result, the day for Vincent, and his young nephew, spirals out of control.
As flawed as Vincent is, he clearly has some Christian faith and wishes to make his life right. However, the movie is a tragic portrayal of a life mired in sin. Ultimately, the uncle’s influence traumatizes the young nephew, who more than anything just wants to go see his mom, who’s in drug rehab in North Carolina.
Writer-director Sheldon Canis expertly shows the world as seen through young Woody’s eyes, both the bad and the good. The movie shows Woody joyfully experiencing happy moments like learning to drive in an empty parking lot or enjoying shopping for a new suit bought by his uncle. It also shows Woody experiencing terror and sadness in moments where his uncle faces drug dealers and death. All this results in a mixed ending, with [SPOILER] Woody digging up his uncle’s drug money and jumping into his car to head for a hoped-for reunion with his mother.
Despite the immoral behavior Woody is subjected to, LUV has a profound sense of being caught between good intentions and bad realities. Thus, it depicts the dark world in which too many urban youths in America encounter, but hope is held out for a better future. In fact, as the final credits begin to roll, the movie cites Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go. And, when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Even so, extreme caution is warranted because of too much foul language and some intense violence involving a child.
(PaPa, BB, C, LLL, VVV, AA, DDD, MM) Strong mixed pagan worldview with some pagan, moral, and light Christian, redemptive content; at least 110 obscenities and profanities (including many “f” words); sporadic but very strong, intense violence includes an abrupt, unexpected fight between a drug dealer and a money launderer who forced back into crime despite trying to go straight, with the fight getting so out of hand that the good man grabs a gun and shoots the dealer dead in self-defense, but then keeps shooting him, plus a big gun battle at the end where he shoots one crime lord dead and his young nephew shoots another dead and young boy placed in dangerous, drug-related situations; no sex; no nudity; alcohol use and drunkenness; smoking and much of the plot centers on drug sales, with some drug use; and, lying, faking credit applications, hiding criminal history, betrayal, gang activity.
LUV is an urban crime drama. Woody is an 11-year-old boy who lives with his grandmother in Baltimore. His Uncle Vincent is supposed to take him to school. Fresh out of prison, Vincent wants to go straight by opening a giant crab restaurant. In an effort to get money for that, however, he falls immediately into shady behavior. Vincent bribes a friend to get him a false identity before a bank meeting about a business loan. The day spins out of control when Vincent learns he has to come up with $22,000 in three days or lose the bank loan.
LUV expertly shows a fallen world through a young boy’s eyes, both the bad and the good. The boy’s uncle has some Christian faith and wishes to make his life right, but his life is still mired in sin. The ending is mixed, but it’s followed with the line from Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go.” Even so, extreme caution is warranted because of too much foul language and some intense violence involving a child.