Parents' Guide to

An American in Paris

By Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Unforgettable musical is great for parents and kids alike.

Movie NR 1951 113 minutes
An American in Paris Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 11+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 13+

Amazing in one way, extremely disturbing in another

I had never seen this film when I brought my 8-year-old daughter to the movie theater to see this classic on the big screen. She loves musicals and she loves Paris, so it seemed perfect. And, while I figured there was some dated social moires at play, I was not prepared for the outrageously sexist attitudes that both Gene Kelly's character and the film itself display- in full force. The sexual innuendos will go over your kids' head, probably- but the predatory nature of Kelly's character is completely in your face. He's out on a date with one woman, spies a younger, cuter one (he's 40, she's 19, by the way) and ditches the older one to hit on the newer one blatantly. He pulls her to the dance floor, she tries to escape back to her seat, he physically restrains her, tries to charm her up, no dice, she leaves him. The next day he calls her at her job, she hangs up, he appears there in person, she tells him to beat it, he keeps harassing her, and with a single joke he gets her to crack a smile and then agree to a date. That's all it takes with these dames, dontcha know. Later, he refers to her as "still water that doesn't run very deep", and when she tells him she's getting married to another guy, he runs back to the first woman, makes out with her, and takes her to a wild party hoping to get trashed, basically completely using her to forget about the teenager that won't marry him. In between all that, every reference to a woman is about her looks, every conversation these two lovebirds have is about him telling her she's pretty. She has zero personality, thoughts, or ideas about anything, and the woman that does is portrayed as a rich debutante who just uses artists as playthings. Yeah, I felt pretty uncomfortable subjecting my daughter to this kind of guy as "hero" of the film. Most films of the time portray decent people who might make a comment or two that betrays some outdated social value, which is no big deal- I get it, societies change over time. This film portrays a guy who in no era could be passed off as anything but a total creep, except he can dance and smile really well. If it weren't for that little problem, the film would be amazing. The costumes, music, dance numbers are AMAZING. Now that I see the film, I understand why this is a classic- it is without parallel, even with today's digital technology, nothing competes with the camera work, choreography, music, and intricate blocking of An American In Paris. The final number is a surreal, 15-minute trip through the psyche of the protagonist- it just keeps going and going and going, all brilliant. So you have a very flawed masterpiece on your hands, and if you choose to watch it with your kids, a conversation about how people treat each other is probably in order, because it's definitely confusing to a child to see adults basically use each other for sex and call it "love" when the only arguable love on display comes from a supporting character (the Frenchman who gives up the girl to the American.) Good luck explaining that one to your kids! It's a 5 star film, but a 1 star film for kids... hence my compromised 3 stars...
age 8+

The dance numbers are GREAT but the story has not aged well

Of course the heavily choreographed last 20 minutes is one of the most beautiful dance scenes specifically created for cinema. Kelly swings for a few fences and seems to land them all. Where the film falters is in the story it is telling. The film has not aged well. The treatment of Milo and even of Lise is poor and this huge love affair is based on very little character development. Unfortunately it makes the film feel shiny with not a lot of substance, which does not reflect how much work all of the dancers did, which was SUBSTANTIAL for these beautifully choreographed dance pieces.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (2 ):

The stunning song-and-dance segments are the main appeal of this movie, particularly Gershwin's 17-minute title piece, accompanied by a lengthy ballet built around the main characters. It's a knockout, and a good thing, too, because the plot is nothing to write home about.

The characters are silly, duplicitous, and grasping, and resemble nothing so much as cardboard cutouts meant to push a plot along in between musical numbers. But what does it matter, when the songs are so delicious (particularly "S'Wonderful" and "I Got Rhythm") and the dancing so infectious? Lavish sets, gorgeous costumes, great music -- this one's a feast for the eyes and ears, not for the brain.

Movie Details

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