A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this elegant, romantic, and often funny musical is wonderful entertainment, but might be too long and mature for many tweens. The movie's nearly three hours focuses on the ups and downs in the romance of Fanny Brice and Nick Arnstein and includes some mature thematic material, such as marital woes and dishonesty. The romance includes Nick's smooth seduction of the innocent young Brice and hints of his promiscuity. However, there is no on-camera sexual activity other than passionate kissing and embracing, and no nudity. Many of the glamorous costumes reveal a lot of leg and have plunging necklines. Characters do plenty of social drinking and leading characters smoke cigarettes.
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What's the story?
Fanny Brice (Barbra Streisand, in an Academy Award-winning performance), an icon of comedy and music of the 1930s and 1940s, makes her way from the Jewish ghetto in New York City to the glittering heights of Broadway while she is still a very young woman. Discovered by the famous Florenz Ziegfield (Walter Pidgeon), known for his Follies and the beautiful Ziegfield Girls who fill the stage in his shows, Fanny begins as a novelty act and becomes his biggest star. But her personal life follows a different path. She is hopelessly in love with Nicky Arnstein (Omar Sharif) a gambler who makes dubious choices and is guided by questionable values. They marry and have a child, but Nick's pride and his mistakes threaten their relationship and Fanny's happiness.
Is it any good?
Made in 1968, this is one of the richest musical films of its era, a highlight in a period of filmmaking that was filled with great material. FUNNY GIRL (recipient of eight Academy Award nominations) is comprised of an extraordinary performance by Barbra Streisand in her first film role, dazzling production values with wondrous costumes and sets, a musical score with multiple show-stopping numbers, and a heartfelt story. What's more, the subject matter -- a young woman who becomes a great star but is naive in affairs of the heart -- gives the film emotional complexity and an ending that defies tradition.
Teens with an interest in musical theater or costume design might find this film particularly inspiring. It is interesting to note that the movie took considerable liberties with the real story -- particularly the events in the life of Nick Arnstein and Fanny's naivete -- and that Ray Stark, the producer, was, in fact, Fanny Brice's son-in-law, married to her daughter, Frances Arnstein. A movie sequel Funny Lady, also starring Barbra Streisand as a more mature Fanny Brice, was released in 1975.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the fact that most traditional movie romances follow a familiar pattern: "girl meets boy; girl loses boy; girl gets boy back" (or vice versa). How does this movie differ? What other memorable musical love stories have veered from the traditional path?
Other than her singing voice and comic gifts, what personal qualities do you think made Fanny Brice successful?
The filmmakers are known to have made significant changes from Fanny Brice's real story when adapting it for the stage and film. Does this matter to you? If it does, what resources are available to give you more information?
- In theaters: September 19, 1968
- On DVD or streaming: October 23, 2001
- Cast: Barbra Streisand, Omar Sharif, Walter Pidgeon
- Director: William Wyler
- Studio: Columbia Pictures
- Genre: Musical
- Topics: Arts and Dance, Music and Sing-Along
- Run time: 165 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
- Awards/Honors: Academy Award, Golden Globe
- Last updated: May 01, 2020
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