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Guys and Dolls
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
The musical GUYS AND DOLLS takes place among the small-time underworld characters of New York. Nathan Detroit (Frank Sinatra) runs a "floating crap game." But he doesn't have enough money to book the next location. And, his (very) long- term fianceé, showgirl Adelaide (Vivian Blaine), is so distressed over his failure to marry her that she has developed a psychosomatic cold. Trying to get the money he needs, Nathan makes a bet with Sky Masterson (Marlon Brando). After Sky brags that he can get any "doll" to go out with him, Nathan challenges him to ask Sarah Brown (Jean Simmons), the local mission worker. Sky persuades Sarah to go to Havana for dinner, and, after he spikes her drink with liquor, they have a wonderful time and she starts to fall for him. When they get back, however, she finds that the crap game was held in the mission, and feels betrayed. In order to persuade her that his intentions are honorable, Sky rolls the dice in the crap game against the "souls" of the other players, and when he wins, they must all go to a meeting at the mission, the two couples get married, and everyone lives happily ever after.
Is it any good?
This musical classic, based on the stories of Damon Runyon, is a lot of fun, despite the fact that two of the leads are not singers and none of them can dance. But Brando and Simmons do surprisingly well, especially in the scenes set in Havana, and the movie is brash and splashy enough to be thoroughly entertaining.
Themes worth discussing include honesty in relationships and in competition (Harry the Horse cheats and threatens the other players) and how people decide whether to align themselves with (or between) the two extremes presented by the mission workers and the grifters and gamblers.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Adelaide says she has developed a cold from waiting for Nathan to marry her. How do people get physically sick from unhappiness or worry? What is the meaning of Sky's father's advice about the deck of cards? Is that good advice? Who changes the most in this movie? How can you tell?
For kids who love musicals
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.