Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Movie review by
Sierra Filucci, Common Sense Media
Hedwig and the Angry Inch Movie Poster Image
Poignant transsexual musical brims with wit, adult themes.
  • R
  • 2001
  • 91 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 5 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The primary message is that everyone deserves to be loved.

Positive Role Models & Representations

No parent would hope for his or her child to end up as tortured and lonely as Hedwig, using alcohol and sex to numb pain. But Hedwig is also a survivor who shows resilience despite her circumstances. And she's a powerful performer who has found a way to do what she loves -- perform music.


One semi-humorous restaurant brawl scene triggered by a hate word. Emotional cruelty. Some mild pushing. News footage of people running across East Berlin border and getting hurt.


Lots of sexually suggestive content -- from clothing, to dancing, to plain sexual tension. All this is kicked up a notch because of the gender-bending issues. Nude male buttocks. One scene, under sheets, of main character thrusting into another character from behind.


Frequent profanity -- mostly "f--k." One instance of "c--t," plus some slurs.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Main characters drink frequently. Some peripheral smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the main character in this energetic musical is a man who has undergone a botched sex change operation and lives life as a sort of drag queen rock star. Sexual dancing, innuendo, profanity, and tension thread through the entire film, including discussion of prostitution and oral sex. One scene includes brief, loveless intercourse where bodies are covered by a sheet, and another indicates an offscreen sexual act involving a hand. A couple scenes show male nudity from behind, and one segment shows illustrations of naked, non-sexual men and women.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byFilm Youngin' January 10, 2020
Parent of a 17-year-old Written bylikethewatch February 23, 2011

For parents and teens who like gay musicals

The mythology that Hedwig borrows for "The Origin of Love" positively interprets queer experiences of longing, love, and identity as natural and equal... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bytheatrekid July 7, 2020

Favorite Film Of All Time

This is my favorite movie ever made. It is so poignant and beautiful, tragic and hilarious, everything from dramatic to dry, in the best way. NOBODY IN THIS FIL... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bycommensenseroseh July 17, 2017

Strangely good

I was really not expected to like Hedwig, but the rock soundtrack, emotional resonance, and dimensional protagonist won me over. There is a few jokes about sex,... Continue reading

What's the story?

Hedwig started life as a young boy in East Berlin. He ends up as a she, touring the Midwest as a fabulously be-wigged transsexual rock singer. The story of Hedwig's early life unfolds in flashbacks: he was born Hansel, of a German mother and American serviceman. After his mother suspects his father of sexually abusing him, she kicks him out. As a teenager, young Hansel meets a handsome American serviceman, who offers escape to the United States through marriage. So young Hansel becomes Hedwig in a botched sex-change operation (hence the "angry inch"). The new husband moves Hedwig to Kansas and eventually leaves her in a trailer park. Here Hedwig meets the young teenage Tommy, who she grooms to be a musician and eventually a rock star, all while nursing an uncomfortable romance. When Tommy makes it big, he cuts his ties to Hedwig. She goes on tour, shadowing Tommy's appearances, and wielding anger, resentment, pain, and eventually hope, on stage.

Is it any good?

What started as a cult success off-Broadway translates surprisingly well on-screen -- perhaps because John Cameron Mitchell, who wrote and starred as Hedwig onstage, also directs and stars here. Mitchell portrays Hedwig with such poignancy -- someone who is both cruel and vulnerable, desperate and hopeful. The film uses illustration, flashbacks, surrealism, and music to create a unique film that's both fun to watch, at times hilariously witty, and touching too -- just not for kids.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about gender identity. What do you believe makes someone a man or a woman? What is Hedwig? What do you think about people who change their physical body to be more like a different gender?

  • Besides someone's body, what else makes someone a man or a woman? What did you think about Hedwig's "Origin of Love" idea?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love quirky characters

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