Blue Velvet

Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
Blue Velvet Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Surreal, graphic shocker of small-town sin.
  • R
  • 1986
  • 120 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 9 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 16 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Lines between boyish goodness and depraved, sadistic evil seem clearly drawn with Jeffrey vs. Frank. Yet the young hero (a college guy who drinks beer) is not entirely innocent himself. He has sex with the victimized -- and married -- Dorothy and seems both fascinated as well as appalled that the exotic beauty equates passion with being abused and degraded. In the end, though, Jeffrey turns away from his "dark side" and winds up with the almost impossibly wholesome (and blonde) Sandy.


Gunfire at close range, punchings and beatings, dead (and nearly dead) bloody bodies at a murder scene. Reckless and menacing driving. A cut-off human ear is found. A woman gets raped (by a fully-clothed man).


Full nudity of the leading lady, near full nudity of the leading man, and the two have (adulterous) sex, though we don't actually see the act.


Psycho bad guy Frank uses the f-word (and occasionally the s-word and the b-word) at least once in about every sentence.


Mentions of Heineken and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer hard to miss.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking of beer representing innocence, and bourbon for the demented bad guy, who also pops pills and infamously inhales intoxicating gas (presumably nitrous oxide). Mention of drug deals.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this thriller portraying human corruption and aberrant sex features full female and nearly full male nudity, violent death, profanity, and alcohol/drug abuse. A seductive female character (a wife and mother) is abused and raped; though we learn little of her back story, all indications are that she has learned to accept and enjoy this mistreatment. While the young-man hero and his allies react with horror and shock, some critics have complained that this film exploits the twisted elements of darkness and evil.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byStar review September 10, 2019

Not for kids

Definitely not for kids!! And not for adults who care about the portrayal and objectification of women in movies for no other reason than for ratings and satis... Continue reading
Adult Written byJim24 January 23, 2019
One of the greatest films ever made, Blue Velvet is a romantic, disturbing work of art that’s a must watch for any mature teen and up. The film features a coup... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byFilms123 July 13, 2020

Surreal David Lynch mystery is for older teens only.

Excluding one scene, this movie could easily be a 13+. However, there’s a specific scene which I guess could be forwarded, but it’s better not to as it’s crucia... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byThe Lieutenant June 2, 2020

Blue... Velvet woah woah woah

Eh it's a really good film but the use of f**k is so common throughout the whole film, ever time you see Dennis Hopper he says F**K over and over. It'... Continue reading

What's the story?

Innocent college student Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan) returns to his all-American hometown of Lumberton to help run his ill father's hardware store and discovers an ant-covered human ear in a field. Jeffrey dutifully alerts the local sheriff but can't resist doing some amateur sleuthing himself -- with the help of the sheriff's pretty daughter Sandy (Laura Dern). Jeffrey finds his own perfect-looking neighborhood conceals a monstrous subculture of sadistic outlaws and crooked cops. He winds up caught in the middle of a sordid sexual relationship between seductive, victimized night-club singer Dorothy (Isabella Rossellini) and a psychotic, drug-addicted fiend named Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper).

Is it any good?

Though not recommended for young viewers, BLUE VELVET is no "torture-porn" or slasher-splatter action that Hollywood commonly aims at the teen market. Among younger, horror-fixated viewers, filmmaker David Lynch enjoys a mad-scientist reputation for his movies, commonly full of grotesque, nightmarish images (often messily violent) and extreme behavior -- but this is actually a carefully composed and paced tale that still manages to be disturbing on its own terms.

The film-noir crime plot, deliberately vague about details, unravels like a slow-motion bad dream with a uniquely absurd internal logic; for example, awful Frank works himself into a homicidal frenzy with gentle, vintage tunes like the title easy-listening song (and Roy Orbison's "In Dreams"), and somehow that's creepier than if it were the most vile gangsta rap on the soundtrack. Characters all seem exaggerated (icons of either apple-pie goodness or diabolical malice), giving the thing a faintly satirical edge, and while Jeffrey shows suitable disapproval at Dorothy's plight and good triumphs over wickedness, a sense of perversity and weirdness lingers even past the happy-ending closing sequence.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the meaning of the movie. What are the close-ups of insects supposed to symbolize about this spiffy-clean looking community? Since the good guys look almost as bland and Boy-Scoutish as the villains are demonic, some critics have found the overall movie distasteful and exploitative -- like something the terrible Frank Booth would find "entertainment."  Do you agree? Do you think David Lynch has a little too much fun with the violence and weirdness? How do the director's G-rated The Straight Story and sinister TV series Twin Peaks compare? What traits do they share with this movie?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love creepy stuff

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