Dirty Dancing

Movie review by
Common Sense Media Editors, Common Sense Media
Dirty Dancing Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Hip-shaking guilty pleasure has mature themes, dancing.
  • PG-13
  • 1987
  • 101 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 26 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 58 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The staffers at the exclusive summer retreat are regarded as second-class citizens. Baby and her sister disobey their parents by sneaking around with boys. Baby asks her father for money, then uses it for Penny's abortion.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Baby, through her three weeks with Johnny becomes aware of what she wants and who she wants in life, but she doesn't do it in the most productive way. Johnny is the bad boy with a heart of gold that falls in love. Both main characters have good and bad qualities, but they both grow for the better from their relationship. 


Johnny and Robbie fight after Robbie criticizes Baby.


Erotic dancing, main character loses her virginity, several scenes of teens in bed. Penny gets pregnant and has a dangerous abortion, with complications afterward. An older married woman propositions younger men on staff at the resort and sleeps with one.


"S--t," "ass," "goddamn."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dirty Dancing is a 1960s-set forbidden romance starring Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze. It's a guilty pleasure for many due to several campy scenes, flashy dance sequences, and appealing performances by its main characters. Although some parents may find the dancing a little too dirty, teenage viewers will be captivated by the flashy fantasy of star-crossed summer romance. Sexual references abound here beyond the dance moves: one character has a botched abortion, the main character loses her virginity, and another talks about her plans to go all the way. An older married woman propositions younger men on staff at the resort and sleeps with one. Language includes "s--t," "ass," "goddamn."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byEduMom February 10, 2019

Mature ideas require "formal thinking" stage, good lessons if you wait for the right time of life

Shocked that Common Sense Media says that age 12 is old enough for even the imagery of this film. Even 14 is usually not old enough to understand the complexity... Continue reading
Adult Written byMotorcitymull April 2, 2020


It’s absolutely fantastic! It’s very moving and captivating. It’s entertaining and romantic. I would highly recommend it. It is however pretty sexual, not in a... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byCaptain Sparrow January 18, 2013


I personally enjoyed this movie, and watched it when I was 13. --However, with parental supervision. I would rather that children of 12 years old at a SLEEPOVER... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byShowman movie13 July 11, 2020

A dirty movie with some language

This movie bored me! The dancing was great, and all, but it was just boring! There are some suggestive dance moves! It is just plain dirty! Not for young kids-a... Continue reading

What's the story?

In DIRTY DANCING, Frances "Baby" Houseman (Jennifer Grey) and her family spend their summer vacation at a Catskills resort where Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze) works. Baby runs into this handsome dance instructor from the wrong side of the tracks at a forbidden, wild "dirty dance" party that his friends throw after work. To supplement their meager earnings, Johnny and his partner, Penny (Cynthia Rhodes), do a mambo show at a neighboring hotel. But then Penny gets pregnant by one of the hotel waiters, and the only time she can get an abortion is the night of a big mambo show. The naïve Baby steps in, determined to help, asking her father (Jerry Orbach) for money to help Penny, no questions asked, before desperately trying to learn the mambo in time. Romance takes off on the dance floor, accompanied by a great '60s soundtrack (a cute touch: many of the tunes have "baby" somewhere in the title). Johnny is drawn to Baby's fierce optimism and Baby is drawn to -- well, he's Patrick Swayze! What will happen when they're found out?

Is it any good?

Unabashedly schmaltzy, this movie is also a lot of fun. Grey is touching as the shy and idealistic Baby, whose sexuality is awakened by Swayze's energy. Both are exceptionally well cast, and their skillful and convincing performances bolster some of the story's weaker elements, like the many stock characters and predictable events. Johnny gets some of the worst dialogue, and it's remarkable that he's able to make the immortal line "Nobody puts Baby in a corner" sound almost natural. Teens will get past such corny dialogue because of the dance sequences, which effectively mirror Baby and Johnny's emotions.

As the two become more drawn to each other, the dancing becomes more seductive, culminating in the liberating energy of the final scene. Dirty Dancing's content may well be more mature than many parents remember; be sure to talk to kids about Penny's situation, and why things were so dire for her during the movie's '60s setting.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Dirty Dancing's sexual themes. How is sex treated? What are the different aspects it takes? Parents, talk to your kids about your own values regarding sex and relationships.

  • As a teenager, what would you do if you were pressured to have sex?

  • How do you feel about the conflict between Baby and her father? Is one right and the other wrong, or is it more complex than that? Does their relationship feel realistic?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love falling in love

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