A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie has a vague, semi-buried message about helping people, even if one doesn't have great means. But mostly this is a story about being in the right place at the right time.
Positive Role Models
The main character is a shambling mess, bad with money, careless, and sometimes rude. But he has a certain appeal due to his cool, casual attitude, and he tends to try to help people, even if he wants to appear that he's not doing so.
Violence & Scariness
Some Hell's Angels beat up some debt collectors in one scene. A band crashes a big truck on the freeway. There's a fight in a convenience store with stabbing and blood (one band member is sent to the hospital). The lead singer of the Dead Boys pretends to choke himself with the microphone cord (and seems to be actually doing it). A dead body shows up in front of the door to the club. The music sometimes has violent themes. Finally, in a prologue, a baby escapes from its crib and runs out the front door and into the woods; the sequence can be harrowing for parents, but the baby comes out fine.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
One female breast is shown, and a few male butts. Minor characters are shown making out and participating in oral sex in the club's bathroom. These scenes are shown very quickly in fast-motion montages. A musician makes a reference to masturbating.
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Language is strong, but without much variety. It includes multiple uses of "f--k," "s--t," "motherf--ker," "p---y," "c--k," and "ass."
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Products & Purchases
The main character likes to drink Fresca and references it at least twice.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The movie takes place at a nightclub/bar, and the liquor flows freely throughout. Characters also smoke cigarettes throughout. One supporting character is shown to be a junkie, though he's never seen taking drugs. (He just appears sleepy and confused.) Minor characters are shown snorting cocaine. The main character swigs from a bottle of vodka, and then pours it in the gas tank of his truck.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that CBGB tells the gritty story of the famous nightclub in New York City, which was the launching point of many great bands. The club setting includes fighting, stabbing, and some blood, and a dead body. There's strong language throughout including "f--k," "s--t," "c--k," and "p---y." There's some brief nudity (one female breast and a few male butts), plus brief images of oral sex, and some innuendo. Characters smoke cigarettes and drink throughout the movie, and there are brief images of characters snorting cocaine. One character is said to be a junkie, though he's never shown taking drugs. The music of Talking Heads, Television, Blondie, the Ramones, the Dead Boys, etc. may be ancient history to today's teens, but those with a curiosity about music history may find this interesting. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
By no stretch of the imagination is CBGB a well-made movie. It falls prey to the moldiest aspects of the biopic genre, such as the "miraculous, sudden realization that this thing is going to be big," which takes place in just about every scene. And while Alan Rickman's lead performance is amusing, not a single other character has enough screen time or development to become anyone interesting or relevant. Director Randall Miller tries to present the movie with an outrageous, or at least silly, quality, employing things like comic book frames and embellishments (like Iggy Pop jumping on stage) to liven up the story. The famous bands are sometimes portrayed by recognizable stars (Malin Akerman as Debbie Harry, Joel David Moore as Joey Ramone, Justin Bartha and Rupert Grint as the Dead Boys, etc.), but they lip-sync the real music. And since the lightweight plot and great music make this less annoying than Rock of Ages, fans of the era may find something to enjoy.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.