A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Big career dreams may come true if they're combined with hard work and perseverance. Socio-emotional lesson about the importance of honesty.
Positive Role Models
A diverse group of young women demonstrate support, teamwork, and friendship, even when they're competing against each other.
Violence & Scariness
A cyclist is accidentally knocked off his bike by an opening car door; his head bleeds, but he's OK. A temperamental character berates and humiliates employees.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Romance and kissing within a love triangle, but the relationships don't overlap. A young woman dates her boss. Dancers' outfits are skimpy, and some of their moves can feel a little on the sexy side.
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One use of profanity by an unlikable character: "bulls--t." "Sucks" and "screw that" also used.
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Products & Purchases
Takes place in New York City; shots of Times Square inevitably have some logos, but only the Broadway shows are noticeable. A Pepsi logo is seen in the distant background at a café.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
None of the characters are seen with any substances, but background actors hold martinis at a modern-day speakeasy and drink wine at a restaurant.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that High Strung Free Dance -- the follow-up to 2016's High Strung -- is a drama about young artists trying to make it on Broadway. It's from married filmmakers Michael and Janeen Damian, both of whom come from the worlds of music, dance, and the Great White Way. Their experiences clearly inform the story, given the situations the young performers run into, including a temperamental, womanizing choreographer. Main character Barlow (Juliet Doherty) does become romantically involved with her boss (Disney Channel regular Thomas Doherty), with minimal consequences. This is a mixed message in a film that otherwise aims to show young viewers that achieving an "impossible" dream is possible through perseverance. Teamwork is also on display, and the supporting cast is diverse. Alcoholic beverages are shown in the background, characters kiss, and there's a single use of "bulls--t" (plus "sucks" and "screw that"). A character is accidentally knocked off his bike (some bleeding). Expect electrifying dance and music sequences that cross genres. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
What this film lacks in story and acting talent it makes up for in eye-popping, ear-pleasing dance and music sequences that will captivate even the most disinterested viewer. The story has overtones of 42nd Street without the clever quips and snappy comebacks (although choreographer Tyce Diorio's exciting originality is worthy of the Busby Berkley comparison). The acting is underwhelming and the writing is barely serviceable, but who cares? High Strung Free Dance is all about the performance sequences.
Director Michael Damian mixes modern and classic dance and music in a way that's entertaining and impressive. Even for kids who aren't into the arts, there's something to pull them in: an amazing rap sequence (from YouTuber Ali Tomineek), a highbrow Broadway dance sequence in which dancers are lifted and blown across the stage, and a visually spectacular Bollywood number. Damian sought out recognized, awarded performers from all over the world to create a troupe worthy of perfectionist impresario Raines. The result is a series of exciting performances that exceed any expectation you might have for an indie dance movie. At the very least, it dazzles; at the most, it inspires -- home viewers might just get off the couch and join in.
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.