Hedwig and the Angry Inch Movie Poster Image

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

(i)

 

Poignant transsexual musical brims with wit, adult themes.
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Musical
  • Release Year: 2001
  • Running Time: 91 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The primary message is that everyone deserves to be loved.

Positive role models

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.

Violence

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.

Sex

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.

Language

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

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Main characters drink frequently. Some peripheral smoking.

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.

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?

QUALITY

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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:July 27, 2001
DVD/Streaming release date:December 11, 2001
Cast:John Cameron Mitchell, Michael Pitt
Director:John Cameron Mitchell
Studio:New Line
Genre:Musical
Run time:91 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:adult content, graphic language, mild violence, nudity, and strong sexual content.

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What parents and kids say

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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 to the experiences of straight people. I recommend this for adolescents who are curious about queer lives: their parents, their friends, their own. It is a musical, a love story, a bildungsroman (I love the irony of this), and a piece of modern mythology.
What other families should know
Great messages
Teen, 17 years old Written byhamstergurl09 September 1, 2011

Total Indie Film; Totally Amazing

WHOA. "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" rocked my world. This movie is SO good. It's refreshing to see a musical/ movie with not only an original plot, but brilliant songs and phenomenal acting. John Cameron Mitchell is amazing as Hedwig, and the other actors are awesome, too. This movie is ripe with symbolism, as most indie films are. You could write an entire analytical essay on the last ten minutes of the film alone. The ending is very much open to interpretation, and extremely symbolic, so much so that I was actually pretty confused while I was watching it. I would recommend this movie for people at least 15 (I just saw it today and I'm 14, even though my profile says 17, that was a mistake). Some people will probably be uncomfortable with this movie's subject matter, since the main character is a transsexual with a botched sex change operation. There's swearing and some sexual stuff, and a brief shot of male nudity shown from behind. This movie has very positive messages, a lot about love and discovering who you really are. "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" is brilliant; I definitely recommend this movie. Also, if you ever get the opportunity to see the live show version, that's excellent too.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much sex
Teen, 13 years old Written byabsolutepleasure February 3, 2013

Great film, just not for kids and younger teens. ^^

The film has some really catchy tunes and is even kind of inspiring, it's just not for younger teens and children. I'd suggest 15 and up because of the sexual scenes, profanity and alcohol use.
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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