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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+


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

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