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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that A Hard Day's Night is a great way to introduce kids to The Beatles -- or, as a family, to just enjoy their glory days. Aside from Paul's naughty grandfather, a lot of heavy smoking (typical of the era), and some brief drug-related humor (which kids may miss entirely), there's very little iffy content here, so just focus on singing along with the soundtrack.
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What's the story?
A HARD DAY'S NIGHT is a surrealistic day in the life of the most overwhelmingly popular rock group of all time. It studies the Fab Four through a typical 36 hours as they ostensibly try to get to the big show on time. Along the way are gags, character vignettes, and musical set pieces.
Is it any good?
The documentary style of this movie masks its tight construction, clever script, and sublime anarchy second only to the Marx brothers. It portrays the Beatles sympathetically -- like the heroine of It Happened One Night, they are constantly told what to do and smothered by all they have.
Part of the humor of A Hard Day's Night is that it is not the members of the Beatles but Paul's grandfather who causes most of the trouble. Musical numbers include "Can't Buy Me Love" and "Should Have Known Better" as well as the title song, its title taken from Ringo's warped syntax after a long recording session.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about crazed Beatles fans in A Hard Day's Night. Are kids surprised to see teens react that way to a band? Are there stars or artists who draw the same reaction today? How has the Internet changed how fans react and communicate with their idols?
Families can also talk about all the smoking. Did it represent the same thing as their floppy hair did? How has smoking in the media changed since this movie came out? (Sad but worth mentioning -- George Harrison attributed the throat cancer that killed him in 2001 to his decades of heavy smoking.)
What did you think about the style of A Hard Day's Night? Do they still make band movies like this today? Would you rather see your favorite bands have a little fun with their fame or make a serious documentary about their life and work?
- In theaters: August 11, 1964
- On DVD or streaming: September 24, 2002
- Cast: George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr
- Director: Richard Lester
- Studio: Miramax
- Genre: Classic
- Topics: Music and Sing-Along
- Character Strengths: Teamwork
- Run time: 87 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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