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Blinded by the Light

Movie review by
Betsy Bozdech, Common Sense Media
Blinded by the Light Movie Poster Image
Charming comedy celebrates family ties and The Boss.
  • PG-13
  • 2019
  • 114 minutes
 Parents recommend

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 4 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Javed works hard and overcomes obstacles to achieve goals, also learns to value sacrifices his parents have made on his behalf. Importance of supporting your child's dream -- even if it's different from yours -- is an important theme. It's important to really listen to your friends. Writers have vital role of telling the world something it needs to hear. It's important for writers to develop their own voice. Characters with very different viewpoints learn to empathize with each other. Differences in Pakistani and English parenting/families are explored.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Javed is smart and thoughtful, with dreams and ambition beyond what's expected for someone in his position. He defies tradition/his parents, but it's in pursuit of his own path. His father is proud, bound by tradition; he's initially dismissive of Javed's goals but gradually comes around. He takes working hard, providing for family very seriously -- but he's also prone to stereotyping other groups (especially Jews), is worried about calling attention to himself/the Pakistani people ("we should keep our heads down"). Ms. Clay is an inspirational teacher, and Eliza is a passionate activist.

Violence

A white nationalist march leads to confrontations; main character is pushed down, injured (a little bit of blood). Racist threats (verbal and physical) against Pakistani people. Boys urinate through a Pakistani man's mail slot as form of aggression/derision. White supremacists bully characters of color. Hate crime at local mosque (pig's head hung from minaret). Images of protests, social unrest. Angry outbursts. Raging storm.

Sex

Passionate kissing/making out. Flirting and come ons. Listening to Springsteen for the first time is referred to as someone having "popped your Bruce cherry."

Language

Regular but not constant use of words including "s--t," "s--ty," "crap," "bloody," "wanker," "sod," "prat," "mental," "plonker," "dumb," "oh my God." The ethnic slur "Paki" is used several times.

Consumerism

The whole movie centers around love of Bruce Springsteen and his music. Other products/brands seen (many to establish time/place) include Rubik's Cube and Sony Walkman.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Wine with dinner.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Blinded by the Light is a feel-good, fact-based comedy about a Pakistani teenager (Viveik Kalra) growing up in 1980s England whose life is transformed by the music of Bruce Springsteen. Directed by Bend It Like Beckham's Gurinder Chadha, it shares themes with that crowd-pleasing hit: the conflict between tradition and following your dreams, the tension between parents and teens, the power of an all-consuming obsession, and the importance of empathy. Mature content is mostly in the form of strong language ("s--t," "bloody," "wanker," ethnic slurs, etc.), kissing/innuendo, and racist bullying and violence. A Pakistani character is pushed down and injured by white nationalists, there's a hate crime at a local mosque, and characters feel threatened because of their race. Characters also argue. Ultimately, the movie is about working hard and overcoming obstacles to achieve your goals while learning to appreciate the sacrifices others make on your behalf.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byU8earwax August 24, 2019

Really Solid Message about families and dreams.

Great movie about being a kid trying to find their way while growing up with struggling parents who want (demand) the best out of their family. It shows the ev... Continue reading
Parent of a 6 year old Written byBill85308 August 9, 2019

The ties that bind

This movie tell the story of a multigenerational family from Pakistan living in London in the 1980s. It shows the struggles of growing up in western society whi... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old September 3, 2019

Edgy but great!

Blinded by the Light is an important movie about a Pakistani teen during the 80's in Britain. It includes lot's of swearing and edgy language, some ki... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byMeow power September 4, 2019

What's the story?

In BLINDED BY THE LIGHT, it's 1987, and teenage Javed (Viveik Kalra) dreams of finding out what life is like beyond the city limits of Luton, England, where he's lived all his life with his tradition-bound Pakistani parents. Javed loves writing -- especially poetry -- and he studies it on the sly at college, where he's encouraged by earnest teacher Ms. Clay (Hayley Atwell). But Javed's father, Malik (Kulvinder Ghir), is determined for his son to pursue a "real" job. The teen chafes at his restrictive life -- and then one day his friend Roops (Aaron Phagura) introduces him to the music of Bruce Springsteen. Suddenly and powerfully, Javed feels seen. He hears his frustrations and longings echoed in The Boss's lyrics, which helps give him the resolve to stand up for himself and fight for his dreams. But will Malik see the light? The movie is based on Sarfraz Manzoor's memoir Greetings from Bury Park.

Is it any good?

This infectiously charming comedy will leave you humming Springsteen tunes for days -- and cheering when its earnest main character starts living the life he really wants. Director Gurinder Chadha previously tackled the tensions between tradition and personal fulfillment in the delightful Bend It Like Beckham, and it's clear that the topic is one that resonates with her. Just as that film's main character, Jess, had to convince her traditional Indian parents that she could play soccer and be a good daughter -- while also learning to value the very traditions she struggled with -- so does Javed have to negotiate the difficult balance between fighting for his dreams and respecting the sacrifices his Pakistani parents have made.

Along the way, Javed listens to a lot of Springsteen -- leading to moments both emotional (when Javed rages during a storm while listening to "The Promised Land") and joyous (when Javed and his friends take over the college radio station and then run gleefully around town singing along to "Born to Run"). Anyone who's ever discovered an artist whose music/work spoke to them in a way that truly made them feel understood and seen will relate to Javed's passion for The Boss. And anyone who's ever taken a chance on a dream will applaud when he finds the courage to stand up for what he wants.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the conflict between Javed and his father in Blinded by the Light. Why do they disagree with each other? Is tradition more important than following your passion?

  • How does the movie portray Pakistani parenting and families vs. English parenting and families? What point do you think it's trying to make?

  • How do Javed and his father learn to empathize with each other? Why can it be hard to see things from someone else's point of view?

  • It doesn't always seem as though Javed is going to stick with his dreams of becoming a writer. What convinces him to persevere?

  • Have you ever felt about a particular musician (or writer or other artist) the way that Springsteen makes Javed feel? Why do you think the songs have such a powerful effect on him?

Movie details

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Themes & Topics

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