Ben Nietzel
Ben Nietzel works as the principal of Saints Mary and Mathias Catholic School. He also enjoys coaching Muskie football and reviewing movies.

Muscatine Living

“Safety” is the inspiring “real-life” story of a Clemson freshman football player whose real life responsibilities off-the-field derail his play on it.

Pro – Family Fun

“Safety” is one of those films that has seen a direct-to-platform release onto the streaming service Disney+ because of the pandemic. With so many movies being held back from release, more marquee films are getting online releases as opening dates run out on the calendar. “Safety” is one of those films, and that’s good news for families.

“Safety” is the epitome of good, family fun. The story centers around Ray-Ray McElrathbey, a promising young recruit at Clemson. Ray-Ray is focused on the rigors of Division 1 college football as a Freshman but is quickly sidetracked when he learns his mother will be re-entering a drug rehab program. Her absence will mean his younger brother Fahmarr will have to go into the custody of the state. Determined to keep his brother with family, Ray-Ray smuggles him into the dorms to live with him while he attends class and practice.

“Safety” is a wonderful story of the power and importance of family bonds, and the sacrifice they sometimes demand. At the same time, it’s a fun look at the stress of freshman athletes trying to balance academics, athletics, and the “fun” of college. The football sequences in “Safety” are exciting and engaging while the family sequences are heartwarming and uplifting.

Pro – not corny

The greatest strength of “Safety” is it’s fun for the whole family. There are no curse words or college antics that require “earmuffs” and shielding of younger viewers’ eyes. There is no buffoonery from adults that will make mom and dad roll their eyes. Most importantly, there is nothing corny about the story or situation. This is the rare film that is clean enough for an eight-year-old yet still “cool” enough for a fourteen-year-old. The football is solid. The life situations are serious and real, but not graphic. The interactions between the college kids might be a little “cleaned-up” yet feel authentic and real. This is just a really solid film.

Pro – young cast

The heart of any movie like “Safety” will be the performances, and the actors deliver in this film. Jay Reeves plays Ray-Ray and has the look and swagger of a highly-recruited D1 prospect. He also is really good establishing a loving yet frustrated rapport with his brother Fahmarr (Thaddeus J. Mixson) and seems destined to be on the big screen for years to come. Mixson himself does a great job, as it’s very easy for child actors to quickly stray from cute to insufferable, and he does not. Corinne Foxx (daughter of actor Jamie Foxx) is also wonderful as Kaycee Stone, the eventual love interest of Ray-Ray. The two have great chemistry and sell a convincing relationship that stays very appropriate on the screen.


“Safety” is a wonderful surprise of a film. It would be easy to overlook it when scrolling past superhero movies, classics, and sci-fi icons in the Disney+ app, but it would be a mistake to do so. The film is a rare combination of family friendly entertainment that’s not only appropriate for everyone in the family, but also able to be enjoyed by everyone as well. Call a 3-4 Sky Fire 1 and blitz over the Fridley Palms Theatre to grab some popcorn before giving this one a try!

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