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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Artists, dancers, and musicians should make art for the sake of art, not commerce. Even those with artistic talent need to study and use perseverance to become the best they can be. Music and dance are links to the soul. Don't strive for perfection; imperfections keep us alive.
Positive Role Models
Characters are far from perfect, but many learn valuable lessons over the course of the movie (like the talented dance student whose work initially suffers due to partying but who eventually realizes she needs to focus on her studies). An angry young man becomes less so when he allows good people to come into his life. Teachers are demanding and harsh, but they claim they only want to motivate the most talented students to work harder. Some performers are arrogant about their talent. Characters are scammed/tricked; others make iffy ethical choices.
Violence & Scariness
Someone knocks a girl down in the subway. A lout knocks over a waiter's tray and then blames the waiter. Theft. Scuffles between friends.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Kissing. Male characters seen shirtless. Friends look for a sexy dress to wear to a party. A man and woman eye each other, recognizing a mutual attraction. A woman is kissed by a stranger who later becomes her boyfriend; it's implied that they're sleeping together. Dancers tango suggestively at a party. Friends describe a boyfriend as "sexy fierce."
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"Butt," "I'm screwed," "sucks," "pissing someone off," "bitch."
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Products & Purchases
Times Square signage.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink socially at a bar and a party. Someone suggests a guy is "chemically altered." A student's partying initially impacts her ability to perform at the top of her game (drinking isn't shown but is implied).
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that High Strung is a celebration of the artistic life, looking at the hard work, perseverance, and dedication that make musicians and dancers become great, whether they're classically trained or hip-hop street performers. The emphasis is on working to improve your performance; to that end, dancers' bodies are shown off while they do their thing (clothed, but sometimes suggestively so). Male characters are also shown shirtless, and there's some kissing. Characters don't always make the smartest decisions (one student parties so much that it initially impacts her ability to perform, for instance), but many grow and learn key lessons over the course of the movie. The language is on the mild side -- "bitch," "butt," "screwed," etc. -- and there's some social drinking. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This entertaining display of talent mixes classical and contemporary music and dance techniques, exposing enthusiasts of either one to the other genre. And the movie argues that mastering contemporary skills requires just as much hard work, drive, and talent as mastering classical technique -- equal admiration and respect are given to both disciplines. Energetic and imaginative choreography shows how much the performers in each category can learn from one another when artists collaborate, rather than compete. In fact, High Strung is at its best when it showcases the fun and exhilaration of following a passion. For example, musicians in a bar turn country-inspired fiddling into riffs on Swan Lake. And a swanky party devolves into a toe-tapping fiddle-off as competing violinists play variations on Ernesto Lecuona's Malaguena.
It helps that the stars are genuinely artistically talented. Kampa is one of few Americans to have starred in a Russian ballet company, and the camera loves Galitzine; as Johnnie, he gets to show off impressive musical, dance, and acting chops. Co-stars John Silver and Marcus Mitchell are also outstanding dancers. Michael Damian's direction is adroit, and the script -- while sometimes a bit corny -- is well intended, with moments of wisdom. As a dance teacher puts it, "Each time you conquer a step, there will always be another challenge waiting. It's a long road, it never ends." Good advice for anyone.
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.