King Richard

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Not suitable under 12; parental guidance to 15 (themes, violence, language)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for King Richard
  • a review of King Richard completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 10 January 2022.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 12 Not suitable due to themes, violence and language.
Children aged 12–15 Parental guidance recommended due to themes, violence and language.
Children aged 16 and over Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: King Richard
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Mature themes, violence and coarse language
Length: 144 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Richard Williams (Will Smith) had a plan, a 78-page plan that he outlined with his wife, Brandy (Aunjanue Ellis), before his two youngest daughters Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena (Demi Singleton) were born. A plan that would educate the girls and allow them to rise above the crippling poverty that surrounded them; a plan that would gain them entrance into a predominately ‘white’ sport and would help the girls become two of the greatest tennis players the world has ever seen, forging a path set to inspire many youngsters around the world, especially African American girls, who would likewise face hardship and discrimination along the path to greatness. However, raising five girls, including two tennis prodigies, in the ghetto of Compton, California, required more than just a plan. It required ingenuity – everything from fishing used balls out of garbage bins; to making promotional videos to try to get the girls a coach who would train them for free; to hijacking a tennis lesson in order to get them noticed. It required persistence in the face of countless refusals to help or listen or even to see the incredible talent the girls possessed. It required fortitude and humility as Richard and his family stayed the course, refusing to sign for money, refusing to be lured by fame, refusing to accept any offer that didn’t have his daughters’ best interests at heart. Ultimately, their patience and efforts paid off as they showed the world another way, perhaps a better way, to do things.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Racism; The perils of life in a ghetto; Police brutality; Tough love; Overcoming adversity.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

  • Richard tells about how he had to run from the Ku Klux Klan, the police and white boys when he was a child as one of them was, ‘always beating on him’.
  • Two gangsters start punching Richard when he asks them to stop harassing his daughter. His daughters witness the attack.
  • Richard punches a gang member who makes a crude comment about his young daughter.
  • All members of the gang attack Richard, punching and kicking him repeatedly as he lay on the ground. One gang member urges another to “smoke him” (kill him) while he holds a gun to his head. The gangster then pistol-whips Richard unconscious.
  • Richard later goes searching for the gang members with a gun, apparently intent on shooting the guy himself. He is saved the trouble when his intended victim is gunned down in a drive-by shooting.
  • Footage is shown of police officers attacking a black man as he lay on the ground.
  • Richard tells Venus how his father made him give a white man money when he was just a little boy and how he accidentally touched the white man’s hand while passing it to him. He describes how a group of grown men beat him into the ground and how he saw his father watching and then how he witnessed his father simply walk away.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • The above-mentioned scenes and images are likely to scare or disturb children in this age group.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • The above-mentioned scenes and images are likely to scare or disturb children in this age group.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • The above-mentioned scenes and images are likely to scare or disturb children in this age group.

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

  • Nothing further noted.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Everlast
  • Fila
  • Nike
  • Reebok
  • Gatorade
  • Puma.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • A neighbour’s daughter is rumoured to be a prostitute.
  • A gangster makes a crude comment to Richard about his 16-year-old daughter getting raped, saying how he and his boys will swing past the Williams’ place later to “train” on her.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • None noted.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • A minor character smokes a large cigar.
  • Cigarettes are mentioned in a song.
  • A famous tennis player is shown in news footage amidst claims of drug use including marijuana, heroin and cocaine.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Crap
  • Bullshit
  • God damn
  • Ass
  • Bitch
  • Screw your fucking plan!
  • Dumb nigger.

In a nutshell

King Richard is an inspiring drama, based on the real-life story of Richard Williams, father of tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams. It is a story of hard work and determination; it is a story about overcoming obstacles; and it is a story of triumph in the face of not only adversity but of outright discrimination. While some of the content is not suitable for younger viewers it is an incredibly powerful story, especially for girls, that should be seen by teens of all ages if only to remind them of the power they possess to leave a positive mark on the world (in whatever arena they may choose) and in so doing, lead the way for others.

The main messages from this movie are that there is nothing more powerful in the world than an educated female who knows her mind and goes after what she wants; and also that it is important to dream big, work hard and to have a plan because, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Humility
  • Persistence
  • Determination
  • Courage
  • Respect
  • Patience.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • The insidious effects of racism and treating people differently because of the colour of their skin.
  • Parents forcing their children to perform or play sports because it is something they want and not what the child wants.
  • Working or training so hard that burnout occurs.
  • Choosing to join a gang, or participate in life on the street as opposed to fostering connection within your family.
  • Dealing with incredible pressure and learning to address it in a positive way.