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Parents' Guide to

Bugsy Malone

By Heather Boerner, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Jodie Foster stars in goofy kid mobster movie.

Movie G 1976 93 minutes
Bugsy Malone Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 10+

Based on 6 parent reviews

age 8+

Great if you are itching for a mobster movie and it needs to be G because of the kids. BEWARE, NOT appropriate for some easily triggered adults (you read that right) as young girls are exploited

Written by the wife of the user: I remember watching this as a child and it being my favorite movie. However as an adult I started to realize there was very little moral value to it or message. The plot is a girl wants to be a movie star and get her start as a showgirl. Part of her journey is that she runs into a streetwise boy in a speakeasy who is supposed to be a lady's man, he likes her but he does tease her a lot. The leading girl only seems to really be interested in the leading boy because he has money to take her out on dates, and promises to drive her to hollywood. She tolerates him cheating a restaurant owner out of her money (she gets locked into a phone booth which is pretty cruel), and has a minor falling out when a girl kisses him on the forehead, but she gets really upset when he has money stolen from him. It's the last straw until the gang rivalries comes to a head. This rivalry is really a secondary story, and then there's a few minor ones like random characters coming up against discrimination and frustrations, and a musical number about being poor and joining the gang to get ahead. Songs are catchy but kind of depressing. The worst thing though is Jodie Foster, yes the one whose exploitation in the movies led to a person trying to assassinate a former president in real life, is exploited in this movie. She was NOT a grown woman trapped in a little kid's body, she was a little child in real life just as she looks in the movie. She wears a silky little lingerie-like dress and her assistants have little swimsuit-like dance suits on. Her song could be interpreted as advertising sex work services. It will probably go over children's heads, they'll probably think she's advertising counseling or something. Gangster head 1: Fat Sam, is the supposed good guy is a mostly self-centered boss, and is very harsh on people, but he does care about his speakeasy members even if he's really rude to them (he does use insults on them). Rival gang leader: Dandy Dan, has a trophy wife who is absorbed in enjoying their fortune, and Dan symbolically (through cream pies) kills off people who don't perform well enough for his gang. At the very end the lead boy and girl run off together after singing about how they don't want to be bad guys anymore with the entire group laughing and acting like their rivalry was silly, a little about karma principles, and a little about leaving a legacy in it. It's a nice song and they repeat it over and over again so it will stick, it's the only good part and my favorite part. It's a pathetic effort after an entire movie about breaking the law and being entitled. Other than that it's an intriging unique movie, but everyone I've shared it with has been all, eh, and I can see where they are coming from. If you're not a child it's disappointing. Little children might relate well to the children in their efforts to try adult things because in this movie the children are in charge.
age 11+

Great movie, but be aware of simulated/implied adult situations and content.

I love this movie. It's an all kid cast probably averaging a cast age of about 13 years old. The writing is great, ALL of the songs are super catchy by 1970's - well known song writer/composer; Paul Williams. The kid cast all do a great job of acting (some more than others) and do a great job of pretending to be adults (Jodie Foster had a huge edge on the rest of the kids given her upbringing). Scott Baio does a fantastic job portraying a back street, opportunity seeking, slick talking, good hearted, street wise - wise guy. Other great and memorable characters include a chubby kid who plays Fat Sam, lanky Knuckles, Scott Baio's romantic pursuit; Blousey, and of course Tallulah played by Woman trapped in a kids body; Jodie Foster. All that being said, the entire movie is about these kids acting as adults would in gangster era New York or Chicago along with the vices, crime and violence - at leas all simulated. A lot of this movie consists of implied violence: The Splurge Gun - It shoots pastries, but the kids act scared of being shot and the ones that do seem to never to be seen again in the movie. Example, Fat Sam and his last remaining henchman; Knuckles, are testing their own version of a "Splurge Gun" when it explodes in Knuckles face and seemingly kills him. Fat sam cries unconscionably as Knuckles lays motionless on the ground, pastry splattered all over him simulating carnage. I can hear a little kid now upon seeing this scene ask his mom or dad... "is Knuckles dead mommy?". Yet, the end of the movie ends with a huge Splurge Gun and pie battle in where no one "dies", instead just get covered in pastry which leads to a happy ending sing along to "We could've been anything that we wanted to be". There is other violence such as Scott Baio's character being jumped and beat up by a group of bums in a dark alley and plenty of "pastry related deaths". Fat Sam owns a "bar" that simulates alcohol as being consumed there. There is a good amount of implied and apparent sexualization. Jodie Foster's character exudes a "woman of the world's" attitude even though she was about 13 when she did this movie. Scott Baio's character; Mugsy and his girlfriend Blousey are supposed to go away together to Hollywood... by themselves. The young chorus girls wear "short shorts" and heels, but they're not extremely sexualized. This will always be one of my favorite movies, but I would not really recommend this for kids to watch unless: they're over 10/11 years old and then only when you sit down with them to explain it to them first or watch with them to answer questions and explain that it was just meant to be make-believe. This movie should eventually make it to your movie library as it is a classic movie in my opinion.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (6 ):
Kids say (4 ):

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.

Movie Details

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