Billy Elliot

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Billy Elliot Movie Poster Image
Terrific story of young ballet dancer has strong language.
  • R
  • 2000
  • 111 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 14 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 22 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Although the characters can be rough and intolerant, overall the movie has an uplifting message of hope, perseverance, and sacrifice.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The characters are a rough-and-tumble bunch who make lots of mistakes and often set poor examples (adults and kids alike) -- but Billy works hard to fulfill his dreams, and his dad ultimately proves to care deeply about his son.

Violence

Some family violence (fathers grabbing/striking sons); police fight strikers; some smashing and confrontations.

Sex

Children discuss sex and adult infidelity. A brief glimpse of a bare behind from a distance. One male character puts another male character's hands down his pants. Use of sexual British slang words like "puffer" and "fanny."

Language

Frequent strong language from all characters, including children. Many uses of "f--k," "s--t," "hell," "ass," "crap," "wanker," "for God's sake," and more.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking (by both adult and underage characters) and smoking, references to alcoholism, adult characters tipsy.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the uplifting dramedy Billy Elliot is rated R primarily for language (an edited version was released on DVD with a PG-13 rating, but it's no longer easy to find for rental or sale) -- everyone in the movie uses extremely strong language all the time. There are also references to transvestism and homosexuality, some discussion of sex among young characters, and a brief glimpse of bare buttocks when one character moons another. Some teens may be upset by the way that family members treat each other -- they're insulting, neglectful, and cruel, and one parent hits a child and threatens another -- but the overall takeaway is a heartwarming one.

User Reviews

Parent of a 6 and 9 year old Written byToronto Mom March 25, 2010

Inspiring & Loving Message

Saw this when it first came out and loved it. We just watched the PG-13 version with our kids and the whole family was really touched by it. It's an empowe... Continue reading
Adult Written byWriter Mom February 5, 2012

Too intense and rough for younger kids

My husband and I just previewed this movie to see if we could let our 8-year-old son, who dances, see it. Having watched it ourselves, we would not be comfortab... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bySamiam April 9, 2008
Teen, 14 years old Written byDreamerlily February 11, 2011

I hate curse words, but I LOVED this movie

Billy Elliot is amazing! Really, it doesn't matter if your kid's 13 or 18, I promis you they hear worse words/see worse things on the bus riding to sc... Continue reading

What's the story?

BILLY ELLIOT takes place in 1984 England, as the police come to the small mining town of Durham to keep order during a strike. Amidst the tension, 11-year-old Billy (Jamie Bell), whose main sport is boxing, is pulled into a ballet lesson taught by Mrs. Wilkinson (Julie Walters). Billy discovers that ballet both answers and creates a need in him that he can no more name than he can resist. Billy lives with his father (Gary Lewis), brother, and grandmother; his mother died the year before, his grandmother is forgetful, and his father and brother are on strike. With the adults busy with their own problems, Billy is able to keep his new activity a secret ... for awhile. When his father eventually finds out, he's furious and tells his son to quit. But Billy has to dance -- and it might even be his way to bigger and better things.

Is it any good?

This film is well above average -- tender, funny, and touching. Bell is extraordinary as Billy, and Lewis is first-rate as the father who makes an unbearably painful sacrifice in order to give his son the chance he never had. Director Stephen Daldry has a real gift for visual storytelling, and it's on display in Billy Elliot. A chase through hanging laundry, dance lessons in a boxing ring, and the opening shot of Billy on a trampoline are images that are fresh and memorable.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the stress of painful external circumstances like can affect family members' ability to be kind to one other in Billy Elliot. Why was the strike so important to Billy's dad and brother? How was that like -- and not like -- the importance of ballet to Billy?

  • Why did Mrs. Wilkinson want to help Billy? Why was Billy's interest in ballet so terrifying to him? What made him change his mind? What do you think of Billy's dad's response when Billy says he's scared?

  • What does it tell us that Billy's father had never been out of Durham, and that Billy had never been to see Durham's famous cathedral?

  • How does Billy Elliot demonstrate perseverance? Why is this an important character strength?

Movie details

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

For kids who love quirky movies

Our editors recommend

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

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate