Theatrical Release: December 25, 2016


An African-American father struggles with race relations in the United States while trying to raise his family in the 1950s and coming to terms with the events of his life.

Dove Review

“Fences” is an apt title for this dramatic film, as it focuses on a man who wants to keep some things inside and other things out. Denzel Washington gives a layered performance as Troy Maxson, a husband and father who works as a garbage man. His wife Rose (Viola Davis) loves him loyally, and he constantly jokes with her about getting off alone to make love to her. He is tough on his teen son, Cory (Jovan Adepo), who wants to play sports as his dad did. Troy played baseball in the old Negro leagues and had a great ability for the game but was too old by the time black players began to play in the major leagues. Cory wants to play football, but when a man comes to recruit him, Troy refuses to agree to it, telling his son to continue working at the A & P store and to learn a trade. This doesn’t sit well with Cory.

Troy has been complaining at work for a black man to be promoted to a truck driver and he finally gets the job himself, although he admits he doesn’t have a driver’s license. Troy looks out for his brother Gabe, who was injured in the war, has a metal plate in his head, and doesn’t always act rationally. In fact, when Troy has an affair and admits it to Rose, he blames the stress on his life as the reason he had the affair.

Washington is powerful in his role as the complicated Troy, playing a laughing, joking man who is simmering below the surface due to the injustices he has endured.

Regrettably, due to the sexual comments and strong language, we are prevented from awarding “Fences” our Dove Family-Approved Seal.

Content Description

Sex: Several sexual innuendos; a man makes comments about being with his wife sexually in several frank statements; a man has an affair and shows no remorse when his mistress becomes pregnant; a man says when he was 14 he fooled around with a 13-year old girl and then his dad wanted to, but he stopped him.
Language: GD-4; good G-1; Lord-1; godforsaken-1; S-2; slang term for sex-1; H-41 (a couple of them used in reference to a Biblical place); D-9; A-2; several uses of the "N" word by blacks to other blacks; the use of the word "cracker" in a racist way; a few uses of the word "fool".
Violence: A man shoves his wife and is then shoved by his son; a man knocks his son down and holds a baseball bat to his throat, choking him, but finally lets up; son tells father before this he could take him; a man says that as a youth, he used reins to whip his dad when his dad wanted to get fresh with a young girl; a man talks about his youth, remembering his dad beating him until his eyes were closed.
Drugs: A few characters are seen smoking, just briefly; a comment about someone who borrowed money to buy cigarettes; several scenes of drinking and comments about alcohol; a few characters appear drunk as they come on to a woman; a bar scene; the mention of gin.
Nudity: Shirtless man; shirtless man in painting.
Other: Several comments about whites holding back the blacks; tension between a man and his family including his sons and wife; a woman is devastated and cries over her husband's affair; death and grief.


Company: Paramount
Genre: Drama
Runtime: 138 min.
Industry Rating: PG-13
Reviewer: Edwin L Carpenter