Billy Elliot



Terrific story of young ballet dancer has strong language.
Parents recommendPopular with kids
  • Review Date: May 19, 2003
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2000
  • Running Time: 111 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

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

Positive role models

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.


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


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."


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.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

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

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this ultimately uplifting dramedy 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.

What's the story?

In 1984 England, the police come to the small mining town of Durham to keep order during a strike. Amidst the tension, 11-year-old Billy Elliot (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?


BILLY ELLIOT 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. 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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the stress of painful external circumstances can affect family members' ability to be kind to one other. 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?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 13, 2000
DVD release date:April 2, 2001
Cast:Gary Lewis, Jamie Bell, Julie Walters
Director:Stephen Daldry
Studio:Universal Pictures
Run time:111 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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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 empowering and loving story for children. My kids couldn't stop dancing afterwards. I don't see why this movie receives such a strict rating unless the rating is to discourage kids from being exposed to an LGBT-positive message. There is cussing but American children won't understand the UK swear words anyway. The sexual talk and violence are minimal, especially in comparison to other PG and even some G movies.
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 school or in the hallways (personal experience) Even if you hate dancing, your bound to like this. They break steryotypes by making Billy (they dancer) straight and Michael (his friend) gay. And if you get the chance, see the musical, its just as good I swear~.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Great messages


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