What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that despite its R rating, Midwest working-class setting, and sexy vibe, FLASHDANCE is largely fairy tale, a glamorous wish-fulfillment pop fantasy for teen girls on what being an adult is like. There is a brief visit to a graphic, downscale nudie bar, strong language, and drinking and smoking. You might point out to your teens that working at a strip club is not as glamorous as it appears to be here.
What's the story?
In FLASHDANCE Jennifer Beals plays Alex, a parentless 18-year-old who yearns to be a dancer with the city's ballet company even though she has no formal training, just an intense adoration of music and dance and a mentoring friendship with a long-retired showgirl. Alex lives alone in a huge loft apartment and holds down two jobs. By day she's a welder in an ironworks. By night she's an exotic dancer in a bar/night club called Mawby's. One of the guys at Mawby's watching Alex is Nick (Michael Nouri), her daytime boss at the foundry, handsome, young, wealthy, well-connected and divorced. Most of the non-musical interludes in Flashdance concern their love affair and Alex overcoming her fears to audition for a ballet troupe.
Is it any good?
Despite its R rating, Flashdance is largely a fairy tale. Through the glitz and glamour and a vision of Pittsburgh that's somehow both a smoke-filled steeltown and the Emerald City of Oz, we can see a sly updating of the Cinderella tale, albeit with sex, Spandex, and lots of '80s pop-rock. Note that MTV was only a few years old when this movie came out; this was one of the first movies to successfully (and profitably) combine the visual razzmatazz of music-videos with a plot. The movie's slender, go-for-it premise proves a sturdy construction for all the music/dance scenes and inventively edited montages of blast-furnace steam, sizzling nightlife, and willowy Pittsburgh welder/dancing girl/ballet diva reverie.
Mawby's seems akin to all those escapist Golden Age of Hollywood musicals of the 1930s/'40s/'50s, where Broadway chorus girls did impossible "stage" routines on ice, underwater, on airplanes, places only an energetic movie camera could go. Alex and a few other dancers, briefly clad, do elaborate, self-choreographed avant-garde routines that mostly just bring polite applause from the working stiffs at the bar. If parents are bothered by the benign treatment of an erotic girlie club as a nurturing environment, there's a contrast provided later in the film between the risque but non-risky Mawby's, and Zanzibar, a strip joint where the less-empowered and less-fortunate girls seem to end up, explicitly nude and degraded.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about this version of adulthood and pursuing your dreams vs. what to expect out in the real world. Why do people like cinderella stories?