Cabaret

 
Influential '70s musical features sex and mature themes.
  • Review Date: December 16, 2009
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Musical
  • Release Year: 1972
  • Running Time: 124 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The messages are complicated, but involve the importance of love and companionship, as well as the incredible human capacity for endurance.

Positive role models

Certainly nobody would wish Sally Bowles' life on their loved one since it's an emotionally fragile one aided by sex and alcohol. But Bowles and the other main characters are good at heart. A friend, Fritz, reveals himself as a Jew in order to marry the woman he loves, despite knowing that his admission is dangerous in the Nazi era.

Violence

A few violent scenes -- one of a man getting beaten up and left unconscious, one of a crime scene where a man appears dead with blood around him, and one tussle between a main character and some Nazis that results in a bruised face.

Sex

Plenty of discussion about sex -- Bowles talks about how she has frequent casual sex, another character describes an aggressive sexual encounter, brief talk about homosexual relations. A few post-coital scenes. Some kissing. The main character has an abortion.

Language

Moderate frequency of swear words like "bastard," "goddamnit," "screw," and "s--t."

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Frequent smoking and drinking, sometimes to excess and sometimes with the express intent to reduce anxiety.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this Academy-Award-winning musical is chock full of sexual innuendo and frank talk about casual sex, both hetero- and homosexual. Main characters smoke and drink throughout the film while living decadent, if impoverished, lives. The movie is set against the backdrop of the Nazis' rise to power in Germany, with a couple scenes of violence related to Nazi conflicts. The main character has an abortion.

What's the story?

When Brian Roberts (Michael York) arrives in 1931 Berlin he meets Sally Bowles (Liza Minnelli), a cabaret singer with an over-the-top personality. She seduces him into her world, connecting him with work and offering herself sexually to him. When he refuses, implying that he is gay, they continue to build a fun-loving friendship that eventually turns into a complicated three-way relationship with a wealthy playboy. All the while, Sally overcompensates for her fragile emotional state by building her hopes for a career as an actress. These hopes are often based on associations with powerful men she meets at the Kit Kat Klub, but usually end in disappointment. When Sally finds out she's pregnant, Brian offers to marry her, but she realizes their fantasy of a conventional life won't work. The film is set against the backdrop of rising Nazi power in Germany, which adds to the tension in the film.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

This 1972 film won eight Academy Awards and many other accolades for its dynamic presentation of the heartbreaking tale of an emotionally scarred young woman. This tale is interspersed with drop-dead gorgeous costumes, brilliant choreography, and songs performed by Minnelli and others. The film perfectly captures the anxiety of the pre-WWII era, where desperate times meant living life to the fullest, even if it's an exhausting and emotionally draining spectacle. It's not likely to appeal to most kids, although teens involved in theater may be interested.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Sally Bowles' emotional state. What drives Sally to want to become a star? Why do you think she has adopted such an intense personality? Why does she change her mind about her relationship with Brian?

  • Talk about what purpose sex serves to the characters in this movie. How do their values compare to yours?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:February 13, 1972
DVD release date:August 19, 2003
Cast:Joel Grey, Liza Minnelli, Michael York
Director:Bob Fosse
Studio:Warner Home Video
Genre:Musical
Topics:Music and sing-along
Run time:124 minutes
MPAA rating:PG

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Quality

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  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written byDoctor Who Lover March 13, 2012
age 13+
 

Cabaret: a great musical for teens and up

Cabaret is a great musical. But first, you have to understand the story a bit to really get into it. There is quite a bit of sex talk, smoking/drinking, and some violence. But overall, it's a great musical, and I hope that anyone who sees it will enjoy it as much as I did and still do.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written byZoelopez December 31, 2013
age 14+
 

Liza at her best

Cabaret is the musical that led me to wanting to be a Broadway star. Liza Minnelli is at her best in this musical. Her singing was so beautiful. Watching her makes me realize she and her Mum (Judy Garland) are much alike in terms of singing. The songs Liza Minnelli sings make sense but Joel Grey's songs have nothing to do with the story line, it's very confusing. The story is okay at the begging but the ending is sort of a wreck. The movie should only be watched by mature teens. There is abortion, sex, and has lots of adult situations that they won't understand. Overall, without Liza's scenes the movie would've sucked.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written byWhitcomb T Johnstone October 22, 2011
age 16+
 

Thought provoking musical to watch with your kids.

We listened to the soundtrack of this musical on the tape player in my Dad's car on the way to Grandma's house when I was a kid (6-7, I think)! The songs led to some good discussions about the rise of Naziism and parallels with political extremism in the US. I've loved the music all my life, though I didn't see the film itself until I was an adult. I think that either the soundtrack or the movie itself are wonderful for watching/listening to and discussing with your kids, but this is not a movie for kids to view on their own.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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