Want more recommendations for your family?
Sign up for our weekly newsletter for entertainment inspiration
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie's major theme is seeing beyond people's looks or skin color.
Positive Role Models
Tracy marches in favor of integration.
Violence & Scariness
The Baltimore police push and shove African-American demonstrators marching for integration. Mrs. Pingleton ties Penny to her bed.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Link and Tracy kiss; Tracy sings about how she won't "go all the way/but I'll go pretty far" and "French kissing" her crush. Seaweed and Penny kiss and dance together, as do Amber and Link and Tracy and Link. Mrs. Von Tussle throws herself on Mr. Turnblad; Mr. & Mrs. Turnblad embrace.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Insults about Tracy's weight: "chubby communist," "whale," "fattie," etc. Use of the term "lawn jockeys" in reference to African Americans, as well as the formerly common (and, at the time, accepted) word "Negro." Other racially charged terms include "cracker boy," "race mixing," etc. Penny's mom says "whore" and "devil child."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens smoke in the girls' bathroom; adults smoke in the teachers' lounge.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this musical adaptation of the Broadway hit will appeal to tweens thanks to stars like Amanda Bynes and High School Musical's Zac Efron. It's a bit tamer than the John Waters original -- there's less cursing and fighting -- but the themes are the same: accepting people's differences, whether because of their looks or their skin color. Kids younger than 11 will miss much of the meaning while still being entertained by the characters and the production. Some of the song lyrics are a tad sexually suggestive: "I won't go all the way/but I'll go pretty far" and "The darker the berry/the sweeter the juice" are just two examples. Since it's set in the early '60s, African Americans are called "Negroes" (and, in one case, "lawn jockeys"). There are a lot of weight-based insults and one case of parental abuse: Mrs. Pingleton literally ties Penny to her bed and calls her a "devil child." In one scene, three "bad girls" are shown smoking in the school bathroom, while adults sit in a smoke-filled teachers' lounge. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Director (and choreographer) Shankman captures both the essence of the Broadway show's magic and the original film's timeless camp value to create a memorable movie musical. Shankman is best known for formulaic romantic and family comedies, but he successfully achieved here what 2005's The Producers utterly failed to do. (Oh, and that cutie pie Efron definitely helps, too.)
Travolta should consider his role a gift, since he's more enchanting as Mrs. Turnblad than he's been on screen in more than a decade. And as Mrs. Turnblad's husband, Wilbur, Christopher Walken again perfects his mastery of slow talking and soft shoeing. Waters himself couldn't have cast a better mom and pop odd couple. Some of the best songs and moves belong to the "Negro Day" dancers, like smooth-talking Seaweed (Elijah Kelly, who deserves an Efron-esque following of his own after this stand-out performance). And Queen Latifah's ballad "I Know Where I've Been" touchingly accompanies a civil-rights march calling for on-air desegregation.
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.
Suggest an Update
Our Editors Recommend
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.See how we rate