Parents' Guide to

Elvis

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Snazzy music biopic doesn't go deep enough; drugs, smoking.

Movie PG-13 2022 159 minutes
Elvis Movie Poster

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 25 parent reviews

age 15+

The movie gives some insight into the making of "Elvis" the superstar and it also does a great job at incorporating the political climate of the time. Be prepared to discuss segregation "Jim Crow" laws of the southern US states, drugs, alcoholism and infidelity. Also, there are rated R trailers attached to this movie. I would skip the trailers if you have a teen with you.
age 18+

Awful cussing ruined my idea of elvis

The cussing and taking God's name in vain was horrendous. The music in the beginning was the only good part. A bunch of stuff I didn't even know about elvis was in there and honestly I liked elvis a lot more before watching the movie

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (25 ):
Kids say (33 ):

Trying to tell the life story of the biggest global superstar of all time in one sitting is challenging, if not unwise. Turning what could've been a trilogy into one film, it's almost as if writer/director Baz Luhrmann is asking, what if a whole movie was a montage? Elvis whips through major events in Presley's life, all clipped as tightly as if they were in a music video. For an artist whose ascent to success was a whirlwind, perhaps it was an artistic choice to depict it in a similar way to the audience. But then, when the party stops for Elvis, so does the action, and Luhrmann abruptly turns to traditional biopic storytelling as Elvis mounts his 1968 comeback. By that time, though, viewers' brains may be so hyperstimulated that the abrupt switch will make the rest of the movie's long running time feel unnecessarily slow.

Plus, telling the story through Parker's eyes creates a barrier to getting to know Presley. The musical powerhouse is infantilized, and the movie suggests that Parker's manipulations led to the demise of both Elvis and his beloved mother, Gladys (Helen Thomson). And Priscilla Presley (Olivia DeJonge) is portrayed more like a minor character than as the love of Elvis' life. Here, it feels like Elvis' real marriage was his partnership with Parker. Is this how Elvis would tell his story? It's hard to say, because after 2 1/2 hours, the superstar remains enigmatic, and too much is left unexplained. Still, Butler's performance is mesmerizing, the soundtrack is electric (many of Presley's songs are mixed in with those by other historically significant musicians, and the soundtrack includes plenty of modern tunes), and the idea that Elvis' lower-body wiggling was actually illegal is hysterical. Most of the central characters develop destructive habits -- but drugs, drinking, smoking, and gambling are never made to look fun, just a portal to misery. As an Elvis biopic, Elvis lacks. But as an exciting way for teens to get a taste of how "the good ol' days" weren't as "good" as some want to remember, it's ideal.

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