Parents' Guide to

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

By Elliot Panek, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Martin and Caine scam women in sly '80s comedy.

Movie PG 1988 110 minutes
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 5 parent reviews

age 13+

Important Review Piece Missing

Really funny movie for older kids and adults. We really enjoyed the twists turns, clever jokes and the ending is fantastic. But the Common Sense review leaves out a major plot point of the men betting over who can get her in to bed first will win the revised bet. That should be listed under sexual content. I didn’t love that that part snuck up on us. Sex being used as a betting tool is not a concept I think tweens and teens should normalize. But I do appreciate how one of the men doesn’t want to play along and just wants to keep her away from the other guy. Over all a classic movie, lots of funny parts and great plot twists.
age 13+


Steve Martin and Michael Caine team up as two money thieves attempting to manipulate rich ladies with their sob stories of dying grandmothers and their made up disabilities. The actors themselves are very good at making you hate them for how hypocritical and sick they are. You almost feel bad for the sympathetic woman who tries to make stuff right (but I won’t spoil anything here). As far as Steve Martin’s comedy goes, it’s right up there with “planes trains and automobiles”. As far as content goes, there was rarely any swearing (except “God” and/or “damn” which were infrequent), but there was a nude statue with it’s penis showing in a museum, characters drink wine, and a sob story about nude dancing and sex, and two characters almost have sex, (nothing beyond a woman’s blouse though).

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (5 ):
Kids say (12 ):

This sly film is fairly entertaining, but Martin and Caine never establish the chemistry of a great comedy team, and the gags tend to get repetitive. If the film has anything going for it, it's the unpredictability of the game of courtship between two men and one woman.

The difference between European cultural pretension and American crassness is at the center of the comedy. The film is a role reversal of sorts, with men fleecing women who've presumably come upon their fortunes by marrying doddering millionaires. It's enjoyable to watch Caine pretend to be a psychologist, and Martin is as animated as ever, faking paralysis only to dance for joy in the following scene. The story turns into a standard wager plot, with the real winner discovering his scruples just in time to save his soul. Needless to say, the swindlers get their comeuppance, the scammers become the scammed, and the story ends with yet another hoax in the offing.

Movie Details

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