Billy Elliot

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

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 18 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 29 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.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 8 and 11-year-old Written bycju1979 May 29, 2015

Great movie but not for youngins

I read the reviews here and thought it was mostly the language (which I am fine with) but the references to sex were a little much for my 8 and 11 year old I en... 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, 15 years old Written bylilysongster April 23, 2014

Amazing movie

Billy Elliot is set in the north of England during the miner's strike of 1984-5. Billy is the son of a miner who is on strike. The miners, as well as Billy... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written bybutterfliesrock February 10, 2013

Strong language doesn't stop the amazing message!

Billy Elliot is a story about a young boy more interested in ballet than the boxing or other 'manly' sports his father tries to force upon him. Throug... 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

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