A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that while all the violence here involves cream pies and cream-loaded "splurge guns," there's still menace behind it and characters do "die" of their cream-filled wounds. There are cream massacres and cream-pie hits. There's also a great deal of sexualization of tween girls, with young girls saying that they watch their figures and dancing suggestively. Jodie Foster's character sings about how the men in the audience "don't have to be lonely."
What's the story?
A pre-Happy Days, Charles in Charge, and Diagnosis Murder Scott Baio stars as Bugsy, a good guy who frequents a speakeasy and falls for ingénue Blousy Brown (Florrie Dugger). But when mobster Dandy Dan (Martin Lev) employs a new "splurge gun" that targets its victims with a steady stream of whipped cream, he threatens the life and livelihood of Blousy, Bugsy, and Fat Sam (John Cassissi), the head of a mob family that still uses old-school technology of pies in the face to vanquish his foes. Can Bugsy help save Fat Sam's empire and keep his promises to Blousy, without falling prey to the advances of chanteuse Tallulah (Jodie Foster)?
Is it any good?
As a spoof of serious mobster movies like The Godfather, Bugsy Malone is a delight, with some excellent performances by child actors. Sure, the plot is silly, but it's meant to be. After all, what could be less scary and threatening than a gun that shoots what looks like spit balls? And it's fun to watch the whole cast degenerate into the equivalent of a food fight at the end. These are just kids, the film makes clear.
Where the film seems less clear about the age of its stars is in its treatment of the tween girls in the film. Girls who have yet to develop any curves say they're "watching their weight," chorus girls perform slightly sexy dance moves, and Tallulah sings to the men that they "don't have to be lonely." Yikes. Kids watching it may not be aware of what that means, but parents may want to talk to their young children about it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what it means to act like an adult. Kids: How would you act if you were suddenly told you had to be a grown-up? Girls: What do you think about the characters who say they need to watch their weight? Parents: See our tips on talking to kids about body image.
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