A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this musical has dark themes and is not for children or very sensitive viewers. It's campy noir not meant to be taken seriously, but the dark comedic plot involves a sinister dentist who tortures his patients, and a flesh-eating plant that devours human parts in a graphic feeding scene. Some of the serious issues, like abusive relationships and ultimately murder, twitch under the plot's campy mechanics.
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What's the story?
LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS is a little twisted, through and through, which makes for a creepy, and very entertaining, musical. It is set on "Skid Row," a dreary and depressed section of "Downtown," where on a grubby corner sits a little flower shop owned by Mr. Mushnik. He is assisted by a buxom blonde named Audrey and his tenant, Seymour, who seems to do everything wrong. One day, an unexpected solar eclipse catches the residents of the city unaware. Shortly thereafter, Seymour finds a fascinating plant on his shopping route that he adopts. Business is bad for Mr. Mushnik's flower stand -- he is about to close shop when Seymour suggests that his strange plant be placed in the window to attract customers. Sure enough, customers begin to pour in, and Seymour is left with a conundrum: just how will he feed his new plant when it begins to demand more than meager drops of his blood? Enter the demented dentist (played to the hilt by Steve Martin) and throw in the fact that the dentist treats Audrey like trash, and the stage is set for "foul play."
Is it any good?
No it's not for the faint of heart, but LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS is a classic. With Frank Oz of SESAME STREET and THE MUPPET MOVIES at the helm, the premise of a man-eating plant charming its way to stardom isn't too hard to imagine. The plot is campy sci-fi at its best, which works well with the do-wop soundtrack. The music is very good -- with Levi Stubbs of The Four Tops doing the plant's voice -- and the solos by Rick Moranis and Ellen Greene hit unexpected emotional notes. Cameos from Bill Murray, John Candy, Jim Belushi and Christopher Guest increase the star power of this talented ensemble.
Though it's thoroughly entertaining, there are some scary scenes in THE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS that may not be appropriate for some viewers. All those misgivings about going to the dentist are played upon like a raw nerve. Some viewers might want to fast forward through the dentist scenes altogether -- which is why discerning parents should preview this DVD for themselves. Other viewers may not be fazed at all, but be warned nonetheless.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about abuse and bullying in relationships. Why is Audrey dating such a creep? Is Seymour right to want to off the dentist?
What could have happened to Audre if she had not been "saved" by Seymour? How does her treatment in the movie make you feel?
Music and the role it plays in the movie. What do you think this would have been like on Broadway, as it originally was?
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