Bend It Like Beckham

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Bend It Like Beckham Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Superb tale of a girl's struggle for her dreams.
  • PG-13
  • 2003
  • 112 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 21 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 45 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The main characters work hard and overcome obstacles to achieve their goals. The importance of supporting your child's dream -- even if it's different from yours -- is an important theme.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Strong female characters who are smart and athletic and demonstrate a strong sense of teamwork.

Violence
Sex

Kissing. References to premarital sex. Scenes show women in bras/with cleavage. Innuendo/verbal references to sex; implication that a couple is going at it in a car.

Language

Infrequent swearing includes a few uses of "s--t," plus "boobs," "hell," "ass," "Jesus"/"God" (as exclamations), and some British slang ("shag," "wanker," "bollocks"). Some bleeping during the credits.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Social drinking and smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Bend It Like Beckham has strong themes of teamwork, friendship, and parents learning to support their children's interests/dreams. Expect some swearing (inlcuding a few uses of "s--t") and innuendo, as well as kissing and an implied sexual situation between a couple committed to marrying each other. Sexual orientation is discussed, and several of the under 21-year-old characters have a beer or a glass of wine, but they drink responsibly and are of legal age in the UK/Germany, where the scenes take place. Jess hides her soccer playing from her family and lies to protect her secret, but ultimately she's a driven, ambitious female character who follows her heart's desire.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 3, 5, and 11-year-old Written byMcMac August 3, 2009

A great mother/daughter movie - opens the path to communication and discussions

As with many movies of this nature, my daughter and I watched it together. In doing this, we are able to discuss any situation or concept that appears which in-... Continue reading
Parent of a 9, 12, and 15-year-old Written byKaren S September 17, 2017

Little bit of everything... comedy, girl power, Indian culture, foreign film for American audiences

I have seen this film twice and enjoyed it both times. I watched it this week paying careful attention to what age group it would work for and think 11+ is gre... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old September 7, 2020

Good movie

This movie is about a young Indian woman who loves playing soccer. She qualifies for a women's soccer team but her parents don't want her to play. She... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byhaventgotausern... July 1, 2020

Bend it like Beckham

It is a really good movie with good messages. I recommend it for all tweens.

What's the story?

In BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM, Jess (Parminder K. Nagra) is the obedient daughter of her tradition-minded parents who have mapped her life's flight path from law degree to Indian husband to perfecting her ability to cook aloo gobi. They have also allowed her to develop her natural soccer playing talents by turning a blind eye to her practices in the park with her best friend, Tony (Ameet Chana). When Jess' older sister, Pinky (Archie Panjabi), prepares to get married, their parents decide that it is time for Jess to settle down. Just as they are telling Jess to curb her sports pursuits, she is offered the opportunity to take her playing to the next level, where she meets fellow player Juliette (Keira Knightley) and her good-looking Irish coach, Joe (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). 

Is it any good?

Spunky and easy to watch, this feel-good movie bridges the distance between old country and new with the deft touch of a David Beckham penalty kick. For any girl whose athletic endeavors were ever questioned by conservative parents, Bend It Like Beckham is a color-drenched fairy tale where you know from the opening credits that the story will end in the "happily ever after" category for plucky Jess. Yes, this sunny little movie is about second generation Indian families in England striving to maintain traditions that kids, more British than Indian, find increasingly irrelevant. However, no matter what your cultural background, the central theme that you should follow your bliss no matter what the hurdle is universal.

While the story might not seem strikingly original, the colorful tones of the movie, the over-lit action scenes and the genuine appeal of the characters, especially Jess, make this film enjoyable, engaging and entertaining from the first moment to the last. Even if the answers seem a bit simple, it is nice to think that complicated relationships and challenges can be resolved with the proper communications and the ability to make nice, round chappatis.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why Jess feels she can't talk to her family about her love of sports in Bend It Like Beckham. How does she defends her sneaking around?

  • How does her father's cricket experience impact his view of Jess' soccer playing?

  • What might be the common bond between Irish Joe and Indian Jess?

  • How do the characters in Bend It Like Beckham demonstrate teamwork? Why is this an important character strength?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sports

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

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