Father and child sit together smiling while looking at a smart phone.

Want more recommendations for your family?

Sign up for our weekly newsletter for entertainment inspiration

Parents' Guide to

Better Off Dead

By Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Uneven, occasionally hilarious '80s teen comedy.

Movie PG 1985 98 minutes
Better Off Dead Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 4 parent reviews

age 18+

HIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII

highly mature if youw atch this your kid will explode immedaitely

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
age 10+
I say this movie is a 10+ age rating. No positive role models. Lane (John Cusack) in this movie is stupid. Tell your kids about suicide before showing them this. There is one scene where a girl gets her clothes ripped off down to bra and panties.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (4 ):
Kids say (7 ):

While some critics failed it from the outset, Better Off Dead is actually a notch more upscale than most of its fellow D-grade locker-room comedies. It's gained a "cult" reputation for its clever gags (even if some haven't aged too well; anyone for a Howard Cosell parody?) and zany blend of animation and live-action. BETTER OFF DEAD graduated to theaters with a homeroomful of similar comedies (many inspired by Porky's, whose title character cameos here) fixated on teen lust, teen drugs, and teen feuds/revenge/payback. Some individual bits here are fall-down hilarious, if pretty much throwaways in a severely disjointed plotline.

A young John Cusack would have more multidimensional roles to play later in his career, and the absurdist approach to life from a bewildered adolescent's POV would be done in remarkably similar style -- but with more heart -- by TV's Malcolm in the Middle. Still, a generation of parents who grew up in the 1980s cherish Better Off Dead and might want to give it a spin again with their own offspring to see whether the humor holds up. That's if the cavalier treatment of suicide as a running joke isn't a dealbreaker.

Movie Details

Inclusion information powered by

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate