A Royal Night Out

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
A Royal Night Out Movie Poster Image
Comic fairy-tale romp has drinking, sexual situations.
  • PG-13
  • 2015
  • 97 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Even sheltered and entitled "princesses" can mingle with and learn something from "common folk." Conscientious parents have to allow kids some freedom.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Older sister exhibits strong moral conviction and a sincere sense of responsibility for her younger sibling; she never loses sight of the obligations of royalty and stands up for herself. Funny, wide-eyed, and filled with bravado, the younger sister is oblivious to any and all dangers; she risks all and suffers no major consequences. Very rich, conservative, but loving royal parents allow their daughters a night of frivolity, despite their reservations. Conventional comic stereotypes include: sweet-tempered, happy prostitutes; dim-witted, sex-crazy chaperones; lecherous males. Set in London, 1945; no ethnic diversity.

Violence

Comic action, never seriously threatening: fistfights, falls, chases, knocks over the head, brawling, narrow escapes from authorities. There’s a glimpse of a dead horse.

Sex

Screwball comic sexuality. Chaperones in states of undress and carousing in bed with prostitutes (quick shot of female breasts), who are scantily clad. Some very mild sexual tension as one teen girl is given an alcoholic beverage with a drug to lower inhibitions. Multiple scenes find a clueless, innocent teen in a brothel; a cad tries to seduce her. Frequent flirtatiousness and kissing -- Londoners kiss and embrace in the streets to celebrate the end of the war.

Language

Occasional profanity and suggestive dialogue: "piss off," "whore," "tart," "prostitute," "ass," "buttocks," "bloody hell," "damn," "knocking shop." One use of "Japs."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Pervasive drinking and smoking. Beer and champagne flow throughout. Citizens celebrate the end of WWII by drinking in bars, in the streets, in banquet rooms, hotels. Drunkenness in background of numerous scenes. Underage drinking, including one young teen who gets very drunk and unknowingly ingests an unidentified drug given to her by a lecherous predator.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Royal Night Out is a "what if" movie that takes real historical personalities and imagines them in an improbable story. In this fairy-tale comedy, what if young heir-in-waiting Princess Elizabeth and little sister Margaret had convinced their parents, the king and queen of England, to let them celebrate the end of World War II on the streets of London with all the rest of its rowdy, rejoicing citizens? Their astonishing adventure finds the two teens, unrecognized in the crowds, in what might be some dangerous situations if it weren't all in fun. They meet up with gangsters, prostitutes, and an AWOL soldier. They get lost in swarming crowds, run from the military police, and, in one instance, almost become victim to a sexual predator. Drunkenness, including underage drinking, is the backdrop in scene after scene of the revelry. That, and a bit of profanity ("ass," "whore"), some near nudity (a flash of breast), and comic sexual situations makes this otherwise innocent film best for teens and up.

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What's the story?

After the nightmare of six years of war fought on English soil, V-E Day (Victory in Europe), May 8, 1945, was a wild and joyous night; A ROYAL NIGHT OUT imagines that night from the point of view of young Princess Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon) and her pesky little sister, Princess Margaret  (Bel Powley). When they finally agree to let the girls have their night on the town, neither their father, King George VI (Rupert Everett), nor their mother (Emily Watson) could possibly foresee the amazing adventure these innocent "incognito" girls would encounter. In true fish-out-of-water and prince-and-pauper style, the girls are separated, are abandoned by their dim-witted chaperones, and fall into the hands of both good guys and bad guys. The entire city (including a brothel, a gambling den, and a swank hotel) is their playground; the jubilant (many of them drunk and unruly) are their playmates. After a close call or two, a sweet romance, and the reveal that they are, indeed, the royal teens, they return to the castle with their curiosity satisfied, their confidence soaring, and their virtue intact.

Is it any good?

Terrific performances by Sarah Gadon and Bel Powley as Lilibet and P2 give this film charm enough to see its way through a thin plot and a few softly landed attempts at poignancy. Cinematography, costumes, sets, and direction are all first-rate and bring a vibrant spirit to the not-so-distant past when wars actually celebrated an ending. Setting the story amid some iffy activities (underage drinking and drunkenness, visits to a brothel and a gambling den) may make it too mature for tweens and middle-grade kids, and that's a shame. It's a fairy tale, after all.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what they've learned of World War II many decades after the real events. Does a story like this one increase your curiosity or desire to know more about that war? If it's possible, seek out someone who recalls the events of 1945, and ask them to share memories of what it was like.

  • Why do you think it's fun to watch stories about very rich people pretending to be ordinary or ordinary people pretending to be very rich? Create your own "what if" story about a place you'd like to go and not be recognized.

  • According to the movie, drinking (and getting drunk) was the main way people celebrated this monumental event. What other healthier, more productive ways are there to express relief, gratitude, and joy?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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