But I'm a Cheerleader

Movie review by
Heather Boerner, Common Sense Media
But I'm a Cheerleader Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
'90s satire has strong language, underage drinking.
  • R
  • 1999
  • 85 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 37 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Messages of tolerance and acceptance run throughout, though these messages are communicated through satire. Pokes fun at anti-gay reform groups.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Exaggerated gender stereotypes are part of the movie's comedy and satire. The central characters are generally positive, even if they break rules and misbehave.


The teens participate in an anti-gay rally. Graham throws a bottle at one boy.


Sexual relationships, including kissing, making out, and one sex scene where nothing much is visible. A character begins to masturbate.


Characters curse frequently: "f--k," "s--t," "ass." Teens go to a gay bar called the "C--ksucker."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Megan's love interest is always smoking and the whole group sneaks out, gets fake IDs, and drinks at a bar.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the 1999 satire But I'm a Cheerleader depicts teen characters having their first same-sex sexual experiences. There's implied masturbation and one sex scene (handled discreetly). Teens go to a gay bar called the "C--ksucker." Parents reject their kids for their sexual orientation, and the teens must find a place to live when they fail to become straight. There's also some cursing ("f--k," "s--t," "ass"), smoking, and underage drinking.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 9-year-old Written byrachel4missions January 24, 2011

NOT as much sex as CSM states. Lovely, funny movie.

Oh, come on, CSM! I think it's very offensive that you gave it 5 lips for sexual activity. I've seen you give considerably fewer lips to movies that... Continue reading
Adult Written bynickmoore June 24, 2010
One of only a very few movies that approaches being a gay teen in the comedic fashion of most teen movies about straight kids. There really isn't anything... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bybiangel424 July 14, 2010
Sexuality is not wrong or theres got to be something wrong with me
Teen, 13 years old Written byMay123y December 12, 2020

Great coming of age movie

Wow this is the best lesbian love story I've ever seen! Being a lesbian myself this movie warms my heart many lesbian movies I've seen depict constan... Continue reading

What's the story?

In BUT I'M A CHEERLEADER, Megan (Natasha Lyonne) is an innocent. As she says, "I'm not perverted! I go to church, I get good grades... I'm a cheerleader!" But her parents and friends suspect she has an "unnatural" attraction toward other girls. Their proof? She's vegetarian, she listens to Melissa Etheridge, she has pictures of girls in her locker, and she hates kissing her boyfriend. They whisk her off to True Directions, a campy version of real-life ex-gay ministries, to straighten her out. Surrounded by fey boys and some tough girls, Megan realizes she's attracted to girls and starts a relationship with one of the girls (Clea DuVall). Meanwhile, True Directions instructors Mike (de-dragged RuPaul) and Mary (Cathy Moriarty) try to bring them back into the heterosexual fold with instruction on proper gender roles and talk therapy.

Is it any good?

But I'm a Cheerleader is a satire, and as such, is over-the-top. Girls aren't just girls -- they wear pink and live in sickeningly-pink bedrooms. Boys aren't just boys -- they all should learn how to fix cars and play sports. And they definitely shouldn't be gay. But behind all the camp, this is a love story between two girls. It's the classic girl meets girl, girl loses girl, girl tries to get girl back.

But the obvious creepiness of True Directions gets tiring. Director Jamie Babbitt doesn't trust you to understand their icky tactics. Instead, she has Mary "planting" plastic flowers and everyone wearing ridiculously gender-specific colors (pink and blue, natch). In the end, if you can get past the preaching and the campiness, what you have is a love story and a lesson for teens about being true to who you really are -- no matter how strong the pressure is to be otherwise.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about satire. How does the movie use satire to make its point?

  • Talk about gender roles and stereotypes. How does the movie use these gender roles and stereotypes to express its view?

  • This movie was released in the '90s; is it still relevant today? Why or why not?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love comedies

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