A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Positive Role Models
Main character Alex is thoughtful, courageous, and determined. She's also a hard worker, holding down two jobs while trying to get into dance school. Alex's friend group supports and encourages one another to persevere when they don't succeed. Alex's boyfriend wants to help but doesn't always do so thoughtfully. Other characters treat women disrespectfully and have bad intentions toward Alex and her friends.
The story centers around ambitious, thoughtful young women who are following their dreams. While women are critical to the plot, the camera -- handled by a male director and male cinematographer -- focuses a lot on their bottoms and legs in revealing outfits. Class conflict is explored in Alex's complicated relationship with Nick, her older, wealthier boss. Alex is played by Jennifer Beals (a biracial Black and White actor), and secondary character Heels is played by Durga McBroom (a Black singer and actor), but most other characters/actors are White. One character makes derogatory jokes about "Polacks" and lesbians. A positive representation of people over 80 years old in Hanna, Alex's mentor and friend.
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Violence & Scariness
A fistfight results in a bloody, broken nose. Characters slap, shove, and punch each other, and a woman breaks her boyfriend's window. Men catcall and grab women without consent. Alex doesn't wear a bike helmet or seatbelt. Brief joke about suicide. A character passes away peacefully. The central romance is consensual and portrayed positively, but the boss-employee relationship could warrant further discussion about power dynamics and sexual coercion.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Two men are briefly shirtless, and women's bare bottoms and breasts are shown during a scene at a strip club. Women wear leotards, swimsuits, and underwear to dance and work out, and the camera focuses a lot on their bottoms and legs. Characters flirt and kiss, touch breasts and groins over clothes, and a couple cuddles in bed. Sexual jokes about body parts, "porking," "blow jobs," etc.
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Different versions of "f--k," plus "a--hole," "s--t," "goddamn," "son of a bitch," "pissed," and "sucks." The villain calls women "c--ts," "bimbos," and "whores." Other derogatory terms include "honky," "Polack," "crazy." Crude sexual references to body parts, "porking," "blow jobs," etc.
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Products & Purchases
Alex drinks Diet Pepsi.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Occasional cigarette and cigar smoking. Characters drink beer and wine in bars and restaurants, and there's one mention of weed.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Flashdance is a 1980s romantic drama about a young working-class welder with a passion for dance and a dream of attending ballet school. The film focuses on women bravely following their dreams and persevering even when they don't succeed, but the camera -- handled by a male director and male cinematographer -- focuses a lot on women's bottoms and legs while they're dancing in revealing outfits. Many scenes take place in bars with drinking and smoking, and there's a brief visit to a strip club (with naked breasts and bottoms on display). Strong language includes "c--t" and "f--k," as well as derogatory jokes about "Polacks" and lesbians. Main character Alex is played by Jennifer Beals (a biracial Black and White actor), but most characters are White. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Despite its R rating and sexy reputation, this uplifting film centers on thoughtful young women following their dreams while navigating complicated relationships and socioeconomic barriers. Through Flashdance's glitzy dance sequences and a vision of Pittsburgh as a smoke-filled land of opportunities, a charming but formulaic American dream story emerges, albeit with lots of 1980s spandex and 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 music video visuals and an unforgettable title track (the iconic "Flashdance ... What a Feeling") with a romantic drama plot.
Most of the action takes place at Mawby's, a blue-collar bar that confusingly hosts avant-garde dance routines akin to those escapist Golden Age of Hollywood musicals where performers did impossible stage routines on ice, underwater, etc. Alex and her friends' elaborately choreographed dances bring only polite applause from the working stiffs at the bar but serve as training ground for their artistic skills and self-confidence. The camera does linger on dancers' bottoms and legs, and some dance routines include striptease. But if parents are bothered by these elements, contrast is provided later in the film between these risqué but woman-led dances and the performances at Zanzibar, a strip club where women are explicitly nude and much less empowered.
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.