Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
Flashdance Movie Poster Image
Cheesy Cinderella tale with sex, Spandex, and '80s pop.
  • R
  • 1983
  • 95 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The lead character, Alex, pursues her dream of attending a local conservatory and, despite her rigorous schedule of working as a welder by day and an exotic dancer at night, shows the importance of persistence and determination when pursuing a dream.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Alex holds down two demanding jobs: During the day she works as a welder, and at night she works as an exotic dancer. She's determined to find a way to attend a local conservatory to try to pursue her passion of becoming a classically trained dancer. In spite of her demanding work schedule, Alex finds a way to practice her dance moves and to exercise in a gym to remain in shape.


Two male characters get into a fistfight, resulting in the broken nose of one of the characters. During a heated argument, a female character slaps a male character in the face repeatedly.


Characters dance in a provocative manner in a strip club throughout the film, but for most of the movie they remain clothed. Toward the end of the movie, one of the characters takes a job at a rival strip club and is shown dancing naked, with breasts and buttocks exposed. On a dinner date, a woman is shown raising her foot under the table to massage the groin area of the man she's on a date with. During a confession in church, the lead character talks about how she thinks about sex a lot.


Occasional profanity. In one instance, the antagonist calls women "c--ts." Various permutations of the F-word. "Ass," "s--t," "goddamn." An aspiring comedian sticks out his tongue and says that it's a "lesbian with a hard-on." This same comedian is fond of making "Polack" jokes.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters smoke cigarettes and cigars. In bar and restaurant scenes, characters drink beer and wine.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that, despite its R rating, Midwest working-class setting, and sexy vibe, Flashdance is largely a fairy tale, a glamorous wish-fulfillment pop fantasy for teen girls on what being an adult is like. There's a brief visit to a graphic, downscale nudie bar (with bare breasts and buttocks on display), strong language (including "c--t" and "f--k"), and drinking and smoking. You might point out to your teens that working at a strip club is not as glamorous as it appears to be here.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byPebbles68 September 24, 2020

Good dance movie

Great 80s movie about never giving up on your dreams even if you're scared. Great music!
That being said, there are jokes about penis size as well as racia... Continue reading
Adult Written bydvdgirl September 19, 2020


A movie about never giving up on your dreams.
Teen, 17 years old Written bysockmonkey14 January 21, 2018


A must see for kids 17+! Flashdance is not appropriate for young teens, due to the amount of sex, such as jokes about the size of a guy’s genitalia & ch... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written by4kidshater August 31, 2010

A dated and sorta mediocre very good 80's movie with very good pop music

I like this movie. It's kind of mediocre at times, but it still has a heart. I also recommeded Can't Stop the music(1980) a three star movie in my op... Continue reading

What's the story?

In FLASHDANCE Jennifer Beals plays Alex, a parentless 18-year-old who yearns to be a dancer with the city's ballet company even though she has no formal training, just an intense adoration of music and dance and a mentoring friendship with a long-retired showgirl. Alex lives alone in a huge loft apartment and holds down two jobs. By day she's a welder in an ironworks. By night she's an exotic dancer in a bar/nightclub called Mawby's. One of the guys at Mawby's watching Alex is Nick (Michael Nouri), her daytime boss at the foundry who's handsome, young, wealthy, well-connected, and divorced. Most of the nonmusical interludes in Flashdance concern their love affair and Alex overcoming her fears to audition for a ballet troupe.

Is it any good?

Despite its R rating, Flashdance is largely a fairy tale. Through the glitz and glamour and a vision of Pittsburgh that's somehow both a smoke-filled steel town and the Emerald City of Oz, we can see a sly updating of the Cinderella tale, albeit with sex, Spandex, and lots of '80s pop-rock. Note that MTV was only a few years old when this movie came out; this was one of the first movies to successfully (and profitably) combine the visual razzmatazz of music videos with a plot. The movie's slender, go-for-it premise proves a sturdy construction for all the music/dance scenes and inventively edited montages of blast-furnace steam, sizzling nightlife, and willowy Pittsburgh welder/dancing girl/ballet diva reverie.

Mawby's seems akin to all those escapist Golden Age of Hollywood musicals of the 1930s, '40s, and '50s, where Broadway chorus girls did impossible "stage" routines on ice, underwater, and on airplanes -- places only an energetic movie camera could go. Alex and a few other dancers, briefly clad, do elaborate, self-choreographed avant-garde routines that mostly bring only polite applause from the working stiffs at the bar. If parents are bothered by the benign treatment of an erotic girlie club as a nurturing environment, there's a contrast provided later in the film between the risqué but non-risky Mawby's and Zanzibar, a strip joint where the less-empowered and less-fortunate girls seem to end up, explicitly nude and degraded.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about this version of adulthood and pursuing your dreams vs. what to expect out in the real world. Why do people like "Cinderella" stories?

  • Why do you think many consider this film to be a campy classic?

  • How does this movie explore the role of women in traditionally male-dominated work environments such as steel mills?

Movie details

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Themes & Topics

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