The official Common Sense Media review really let me down on this one.
Eliza develops the syndrome where women fall in love with a captor, and Prof. Higgins is verbally abusive. Names he slings at Eliza include "impudent hussy", "presumptuous insect" and "guttersnipe." He doesn't respect her as a person at all, but treats her as a throwaway object that he USES to win a bet.
About the language, it's not just that there are a good number of "damns" and "for God's sakes"; Higgins actually says "Damn you!" to Eliza, as well as "you look like the very devil."
He sings a song of pure, ridiculous misogyny called "Why can't a woman be more like a man?" I felt very uncomfortable for my daughter and son to be exposed to words such as: "...Women are irrational, that's all there is to that! Their heads are full of cotton, hay, and rags. They're nothing but exasperating, irritating, vacillating, calculating, agitating, maddening and infuriating hags! "
In the one song in which Eliza seems to have grown a spine, ("The world will go on without you"), Prof. Higgins keeps calling her a "hussy."
The messages about class are not very helpful. Although it is a good lesson that you can uplift the way you present yourself by speaking properly, the other message is that Eliza can pass for high class because she's beautiful and thin. Yuck - that's lookism.
Not that I'm a big fan of class divisions, but at that time I believe one of the markers of class was education. Children of nobility would have read and discussed Shakespeare, Homer, and Virgil with their tutors, as well as learning languages and studying music. But culture and education don't figure in to Eliza's training at all. What a missed opportunity to give a positive message! It would have added a lot to the story if Higgins had exposed Eliza to some literature, which might have touched and enlightened her soul, and perhaps given her an appetite for more.
The drinking scene is much more than a "shot" of a bridegroom heading to his wedding. It's actually a whole musical number set in a pub, and and it makes drinking look pretty darn fun, and an aid to singing and dancing. He gets so irresponsibly drunk that he has to count on other people to get him to his own wedding. They literally carry him away, still singing. Is there a subtle message there that alcohol is fun and harmless, and it's okay to marry alcoholics?
Although there are no bedroom scenes, or indeed, kisses; it is extremely troubling that Eliza seems to "fall in love" with Higgins and comes back to him at the end. It's not love, it's abused woman syndrome portrayed as a happy ending. Steer clear!