Bohemian Rhapsody

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Bohemian Rhapsody Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Exuberant music, electric performance in routine biopic.
  • PG-13
  • 2018
  • 134 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 59 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 100 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Movie tries to champion teamwork and does get that message across in a few well-placed scenes, but it's also clear that this is entirely Mercury's one-man show; the other three band members never come to life and are almost interchangeable.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mercury's creativity, talent are showcased as much as his fame and success. Band looks for ways to work together and connect with audience, rather than simply coveting success.

Violence

A rock crashes through a window. Fighting, shouting, arguing, mild threats.

Sex

Sex is implied; a couple kisses and lies in bed together. Both opposite-sex and same-sex flirting and kissing.

Language

A use of "f--k," plus uses of "s--t," "bulls--t," "pr--k," "a--hole," "hell," "damn," "piss," "twat," "wanker," "balls," "bollocks," "nuts," "Christ." Also racial slurs ("Paki").

Consumerism

Stolichnaya vodka bottle shown. Pepsi cups prominently displayed (circa 1985 Live Aid show).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking is prevalent; main characters are frequently shown drinking to excess. Main character takes pills. Vodka, beer. Residue of cocaine powder visible on table.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Bohemian Rhapsody is a fact-based drama about the rock band Queen, particularly its talented and charismatic lead singer, Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek). While there's quite a bit of drinking (including to excess), as well as characters taking cocaine, the movie isn't as edgy as you might expect for the subject and era. Sex is implied between a man and a woman (they kiss, lie in bed together, etc.), and men kiss and flirt with each other, but there's no graphic nudity. And language includes a use of "f--k," plus "s--t," "bulls--t," "a--hole," and some racial slurs (e.g., "Paki") but isn't extreme. Characters also fight, argue, and shout, and a rock crashes through a window. Like many musical biopics, the movie boasts a strong central performance and inspiring song performances, but the rest is pretty routine. But it should still please the band's fans.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byV C November 4, 2018

Inspiring - meaningful messages

An inspiring movie for 11+ year-old kids, with two meaningful themes: good thoughts, good words, good deeds will redeem a person, even at an absolute nadir of... Continue reading
Parent of a 12-year-old Written byLisaLACA November 12, 2018

So many good lesssons

We have twins, a boy and a girl just turned age 12. Our daughter is more mature than our son and this would be considered their first “real” film outside of Mar... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old December 14, 2018

Ok Parents listen and listen good

Alright grown ups get ready to get roasted by the 12 year old.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with this movie. Yes, there's drinking, yes there's s... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old November 5, 2018

You people are ridiculous.

There is nothing wrong with the fact that Freddie Mercury is in love with another man. This is the real world, people. Though, I could have done without the lan... Continue reading

What's the story?

In BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY, Freddie Bulsara (Rami Malek) dreams of being a singer and goes to clubs to hear his favorite band play. When their lead singer quits, Freddie gets the job. He changes his last name to Mercury, and the band becomes Queen. Thanks to Mercury's astonishing vocal range and the band's hard rock sound, they find immediate success. Freddie marries his sweetheart, Mary (Lucy Boynton), and starts to deal with the pitfalls of fame, including drinking and drugs, ego wars, and his own sexual identity. Spending time with the wrong entourage sends Freddie down a bad path, pursuing a doomed solo career. In 1985, when Queen is invited to play the Live Aid show, Freddie must apologize to his former bandmates and get their groove back. Can they be ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Is it any good?

The music sequences in this drama (especially the Live Aid performance and the recording of the title song) are electrifying, and Malek is magnetic, but overall the movie is slavishly by-the-numbers. Credited to Bryan Singer, who ended up getting fired and replaced by director Dexter Fletcher, Bohemian Rhapsody is almost exactly like many other music biopics, with the same plot arcs covering the rise to success, creativity in action, pitfalls of fame, fighting, bad influences, wrong choices, and then redemption. These real-life stories are of course worth telling, but the difference between following a formula -- one that was thoroughly skewered a decade ago in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story -- and discovering genuine moments of intimacy and life is crucial.

Bohemian Rhapsody had an opportunity with the exuberant Live Aid show, which lasted 20 minutes in real life and made history; here it's the movie's triumphant climax, but it could have been a centerpiece. It's still impressive and very much worth the wait, as is the energized recording of the title song, a joyous circus of creative abandon. It's in these scenes that the band works as a team, while in the more ordinary sequences, Mercury is the lone focus; everything that happens is in relation to him. Given that the movie seems to want to be about families and bonds, it's a little too weighted to one side. But Malek, even acting through a mouthful of prosthetic teeth, does justice to the role; we come away with a great affection for both him and Mercury.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Bohemian Rhapsody depicts drinking and drug use. Is substance use glamorized? Are there consequences for the characters? Why is that important?

  • Mercury is portrayed as being attracted to people of both sexes. Do you feel that this is a realistic depiction of him and his sexuality?

  • Is Mercury a role model? What are his achievements? What are his flaws? Do the former outweigh the latter?

  • Were you a Queen fan before watching the movie? Did the movie make you appreciate their music more?

  • The movie is based on real people and events, but not everything happened the way it's depicted here. Why do you think filmmakers might choose to alter the facts in films based on true stories? How could you find out more about Mercury and Queen?

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