Can't Buy Me Love

  • Review Date: July 19, 2005
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1987
  • Running Time: 94 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Teen comedy is dated but occasionally funny.
  • Review Date: July 19, 2005
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1987
  • Running Time: 94 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

High school clique behavior, a character sells himself out for popularity.


A few tense stand-offs.


Kissing, semi-nudity, references to off-screen sex acts.


Some strong language.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Teens drinking freely at parties, a drunken confession affects the plot.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie has some strong language that gets thrown around in a casual way. There is not much onscreen nudity, but a lot of sexual references and some crude jokes and comments about sexuality. The premise of the movie involves a popular girl dating a nerdy boy for money, and there are some references to prostitution. There are a few scenes where high school age kids drink, with no consequences from authority figures. A main character, a good student, starts to ignore his studies and suffers no consequences. There are few speaking roles for minorities, and a heavy reliance on stereotypes for the plot development (a nerd/ cool kid rivalry).

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

CAN'T BUY ME LOVE is a teen romantic comedy about Ronald (Patrick Dempsey), a high school senior who has been filling the role of hard-working student all of his life. He has a group of close friends, and a supportive family, but he longs to be accepted by the popular crowd, headed by his lovely next-door neighbor, Cindy (Amanda Peterson). When Cindy finds herself in dire need of $1000, Ronald offers her a deal: He will pay her the money if she pretends to date him for a month. She agrees and soon Ronald is the toast of the popular set. All the girls want to date him, all the boys want to be like him, and Cindy starts to warm to him. From the outset, Ronald's popularity presents problems as well as privileges: He leaves his old friends behind, he starts to do badly in his classes, and as his personality changes, Cindy becomes disillusioned, and their budding friendship dissolves. It's only when his ploy is exposed that Ronald can start to think about the cost of playing any role, nerd or cool kid, and being anything other than what he really is.

Is it any good?


Teenagers that are in high school will have little tolerance for the simplified version of their social lives, and parents might object to younger children watching due to language and issues of sexuality. There are a few charming moments, though, especially as Cindy and Ronald become friends.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how people deal with loneliness, popularity, and the demands of both. How do people "sell" themselves? The value of being true to yourself is a main theme of the movie. What does being true to yourself require?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 19, 1987
DVD release date:June 1, 2001
Cast:Amanda Peterson, Patrick Dempsey, Seth Green
Director:Steve Rash
Studio:Buena Vista
Run time:94 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:language, mild sexuality, mild substance abuse

This review of Can't Buy Me Love was written by

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About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 15 years old Written byHappilyEverAfter July 17, 2009


I thought it was a cute movie. It taught a good lesson.
What other families should know
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent of a 2 year old Written byalinzasmommy2006 December 20, 2008

Good Movie

great for older teens (about 17 & up).
Adult Written bywonder dove January 16, 2013

Best 80's flick! Patrick Dempsey is awesome!

This is easily the best 80's teen comedy movie ever!! When I first caught it on TV at age 12, I loved it!! It has so many good messages and lessons to learn from about being who you are and staying true to yourself. It's basically about a "nerd" named Ronald who daydreams about becoming popular and "in" with the cool kids at school. Ronald has saved his money from lawn mowing jobs and can finally afford his own telescope...but instead decides to offer the $1000 to his love interest Cindy, the prettiest girl in school, in exchange to be his girlfriend for one month. She agrees and "Ronnie" soon becomes the life of the party and the most popular guy in school with a new wardrobe, new friends and a new personality. Leaving behind his old friends and best friend, Ronnie gets so caught up with being popular that he even doesn't notice that Cindy wants him. Later, out of anger (and too much alcohol), Cindy finally exposes Ronnie and suddenly his life turns upside down - but for a good cause. Ronald becomes himself again and realizes that popularity isn't important, it's the people who truly care about you. Main actor Patrick Dempsey is amazing, his character as Ronald is so lovable. There's no real violence just some mild arguments, group rowdiness. Language is sometimes strong but not too bad (I think there's one "f" word). Sexual content includes lots of flirting, common discussions about girls and guys, some kissing, a comic encounter in a car where a girl removes her top (no nudity), a few girls caress Ronald in one scene, implied cheating. There is drinking at parties. Overall, excellent funny film for 12 and up!
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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