A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie offers several positive messages, from the superficial (it's never too late to learn to dance) to the substantial (teens need to have a voice and to be listened to in order to forge real relationships with their parents and other adults). Even the romantic relationships provide a valuable lesson -- Ren rebuffs Ariel's advances until he feels that she's ready for him and not just getting back at her aggressive ex. Ren's mission to get the local council to reinstate dancing is inspiring.
Positive Role Models
Ren works hard to fix his car, to create a petition to reinstate public dancing, and even to teach his new best friend how to dance. He's kind to Ariel and is unwilling to kiss her until he's sure the time is right. We even know he nursed his dying mother at the end of her life. He's an all-around cool and mature guy. His aunt and uncle are also good role models of supportive, caring adults who stick up for their nephew. Ren's fellow students are a more diverse group than in the original. On the downside, many of the teens do iffy things, from drinking to dangerous bus races.
Violence & Scariness
Ariel's boyfriend, Chuck, hits her in the face and gives her a black eye. A fist fight erupts between Chuck (and his friends) and Ren and Willard. Ren and Willard also get into a fight at an Atlanta club. Chuck, Ren, and a few others dangerously race old, tricked-out school buses on a track, and there's a crash that could have hurt someone but doesn't.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
There's a scene in which a teenage girl is obviously about to lose her virginity (she starts unbuttoning her top and asks her boyfriend to shut the door); she later confirms this fact by yelling "I'm not even a virgin" to her parents. Also a few kisses and flirting and jokes about boners, threesomes, and dancers' flexible bodies. More suggestive dancing (grinding, etc.) than in the original.
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Frequently used swear words include "bulls--t," "s--t, "a--hole," "dick," "ass," "piss," "dumbass," "screw," "prick," "hell," "damn," "oh my God," and more. One instance in which the derogatory word "fag" is used to describe Ren because he's a gymnast who likes to dance. The guy who says it is then called an "a--hole."
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Products & Purchases
iPod is used and shown in several scenes.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens are shown drinking; Chuck (who's not in high school but could still be under 21) smokes a joint with his friends, some of whom are still in school.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this remake of the classic '80s dance movie is faithful to the Kevin Bacon original, which nowadays would be rated PG-13. There's plenty of language ("s--t," "a--hole," and more) and some sexual content (from jokes about threesomes and boners to a scene in which a young woman decides to lose her virginity), but nothing overtly graphic or that teens wouldn't hear walking around their schools. There's also a scene in which a small group of teens passes a joint around and then races buses on a dangerous track. But overall the movie's messages are positive -- that teenagers have a voice, that they can make a difference, and that they deserve to be heard. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Many remakes are unnecessary or downright depressing, so there's an element of surprise when one is actually decent. Director Craig Brewer's (Hustle & Flow) take on the iconic '80s movie manages to be believably "new" while remaining quite faithful to the original -- from the overall storyline to some nearly shot-for-shot, line-by-line sequences. Brewer's updates, in fact, are all quite subtle -- the locations are different (Ren's home city is Boston instead of Chicago, to accommodate McCormack's native accent, and he moves to Georgia instead of Oklahoma), the cast now includes a more diverse group of students, the teens' dancing is more modern, and Ren is motherless, making him yet another underdog movie orphan you can't help but root to win.
But for the most part, everything else is familiar -- and for once, that's a good thing. Wormald has an elfin James Dean quality that makes him cute but not distractingly edgy or sexy. He's got a winning smile and amazing dancing skills (better than Kevin Bacon's), and his scenes teaching pal Willard (Teller channels the best of the late Chris Penn's performance) to boogie are again some of the best in the movie. Hough sheds her ballroom-dancing pro persona (although there's a joke thrown in just for Dancing with the Stars fans) to seem like a real actress, but her portrayal takes a backseat to Wormald and Teller's. Dennis Quaid's minister isn't as fire-and-brimstone intense as the original's John Lithgow, but his tone is just the right balance of conflicted and protective. While this remake may not be the cultural touchstone that Bacon's version became, it's toe-tapping fun for teens and nostalgic parents.
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.