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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
It's important to provide and take care of your family -- and to forgive. Opening your heart and home to war refugees is the right thing to do.
Positive Role Models
Stanley stands up for a coworker. Although he gambles and makes mistakes, he's remorseful and does the right thing. A family doesn't think twice about welcoming Jewish relatives fleeing the war in Europe into their small house.
The film presents a nuanced, positive portrait of a Jewish family in Brooklyn in the late 1930s. All of the characters are White except for a Black coworker of Stanley's who doesn't get any lines. (He exists only to show how Stanley is a good person, standing up to a racist boss.) There's a generational clash between Blanche and her daughter Nora. Blanche is traditional and seeks approval from the male head of household on all decisions, while Nora is independent and seeks to forge her own path. There's a stereotypical drunk Irish character.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Breasts are visible in a National Geographic magazine. Lots of talk about sex and masturbating; a sibling assures the main character that "everyone whacks off." As Eugene struggles through puberty, he's obsessed with breasts -- or the "golden palace of the Himalayas," as he calls them -- and with seeing his cousin Nora and older neighbor naked.
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"S--t" is used a few times, and "f--k" is used once.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Negatively-portrayed characters smoke. A character is referred to throughout the movie as "a drunk" and is shown leaving a bar intoxicated. (Consequences are shown for his behavior and the main characters strongly frown upon drinking.)
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Brighton Beach Memoirs is a funny, poignant portrait of a Brooklyn Jewish family in the late 1930s and portrays the awkwardness of adolescence that's probably best for teens and up. There's no violence but (negatively portrayed) characters drink and smoke and masturbation and sex are central elements in the movie. Characters swear a few times ("s--t" and one "f--k"). Overall it has several positive messages and role models and offers a relatable portrayal of what it's like to go through puberty. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Yes, this film is full of cliches: the overbearing Jewish mother, the horny teenager, the drunk Irish neighbor, etc. But somehow Brighton Beach Memoirs works. It's a sweet film that nicely captures the awkwardness of being a teen boy, the youngest in the family, and poor. The characters are genuine and relatable, and Eugene is an amusing and sympathetic narrator. Teens and parents will find lots to discuss.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.