Funny Face



Bubbly, fashion-crazed Hepburn-Astaire musical.
  • Review Date: February 21, 2008
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Musical
  • Release Year: 1957
  • Running Time: 103 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Lightweight characterizations that aren't really affecting one way or another. Even when Maggie declares that they're all supposed to be heartless big-city cynics who don't believe in love, there's no real meanness in it. Still, Jo's search for self-improvement and philosophy is repeatedly mocked, and her French guru gets knocked off his pedestal.


Just one guy hit over the head with a vase.

Not applicable
Not applicable

A built-in ad for clothing and dressing to the nines, though no real-life product labels are mentioned.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Social drinking, smoking in cafés.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the movie's high-fashion milieu, though satirized, does tend to be a consumerist plug for upscale women's clothing. Female characters are repeatedly objectified (all thin and gorgeous) and exhorted to dress and look their best. Being a pretty girl is equated with being rather stupid, and the heroine is chastised for trying to be more intellectual. Plus, there's a brief reference to "romantic" suicide in the context of the novel Anna Karenina.

What's the story?

At a glossy NYC fashion magazine called Quality, domineering editor Maggie (Kay Thompson) seeks the next big sensation, an ultimate model to be dubbed the "Quality Woman." Maggie's especially disenchanted that all the pretty models being shot by her ace photographer Dick Avery (Fred Astaire) are pretty dumb as well. In a Greenwich Village book store, Avery becomes transfixed with shopgirl Jo (Audrey Hepburn), a bespectacled "beatnik" intellectual, immersed in philosophy -- especially some new brand of thought called "Empathicalism." Dick talks Jo into modeling for him, making her offbeat appeal a success. For Jo's public debut as the "Quality Woman," they fly to Paris for fashion shoots (and on-location musical numbers derived from Gershwin tunes). In the process Jo and Dick fall in love, but Jo is an unreliable supermodel; she's mainly gone along for the opportunity to meet great French thinkers, especially the one who invented Empathicalism.

Is it any good?


FUNNY FACE is a bubbly, brilliantly colored but rather superficial old-school Hollywood musical. Compared with the same director's earlier masterpiece Singin' in the Rain it's a great-looking bonbon that leaves a sort of funny taste, if you ponder it too hard (which one shouldn't). The script takes satirical jabs at the fashion world's shallow superficiality, especially in the opening "Think Pink" song-and-dance number. But it also parodies the rebellion against 1950s consumer society embraced by the "beat generation," and their jazz tunes, coffeehouse concerts, and nonconformists.

So are the filmmakers in favor of anything? Yes, romance, and a very patriarchal one at that. Song-and-dance man Fred Astaire looks more like a dad than boyfriend to the magical Audrey Hepburn, and their romance feels like protective father-daughter stuff rather than real passion. None of these characters are given a history except Jo, a cloistered thinker meant to be an ugly-duckling (never mind the starlet's luminous looks). It's a little disconcerting the movie dismisses her deep thinking as a silly quirk, symbolized when Hepburn does weird, angular modern dance steps, in contrast to Astaire's graceful soft-shoe routines.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the attitudes. Would you call this film sexist? How has the fashion scene changed (or not changed?) since Funny Face was made? While the script's "empathicalism" is a made-up philosophy, you can talk about existentialism and Jean-Paul Sartre, Jacques Derrida, and other French star philosophers, right down to today's Bernard-Henri Levy (married to movie-actress bombshell) who commands much media attention.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:February 13, 1957
DVD release date:October 2, 2007
Cast:Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire, Kay Thompson
Director:Stanley Donen
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Run time:103 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byMYTN December 27, 2011

Old Fashioned and Fun

This is an easily digestible, fun, gorgeously shot, and more-intelligent-than-it-should-be kind of musical. It is the perfect movie to put you in a good mood. This helps with Hepburn's charm, Astaire's presence, and Kay Thompson's sardonic wit. However, when Astaire and Hepburn first meet, Astaire randomly kisses her without any warnings, which my girlfriend noted, "That's sexual harassment!" and I do agree with this site's review that there is a very old fashioned view of gender roles in this film. PS- Not to be a Negative Nancy, but there's something kind of "white suburban parent pipedream" about this website's review; just the thought that one will discuss Sartre and Derrida with your 9-year-old kid strikes me as delusionally high-brow. I imagine after watching this movie you had your kids read through The Second Sex and write a dissertation about gender performativity...
Teen, 14 years old Written byramalama_dingdo... June 11, 2009

Cute movie

Anything with Audrey Hepburn is good to me :)
Teen, 15 years old Written bywho3697cares December 26, 2008

One of my favorite musicals

It doesn't show off or become over-the-top like musicals usually do, it's about the characters and the satire.


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