A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Opening Night is a raunchy musical comedy about a stressed-out stage manager and the quirky cast and crew of a Broadway show. Characters break into song onstage as part of the show, as well as offstage. Swearing is strong and constant, including many uses and forms of "f--k," as well as "s--t," "d--k," "bitch," "a--hole," and an entire sequence of inappropriate sexual insults. A woman's naked breasts are seen in one scene as she and several other women exit a man's dressing room. Characters frequently talk about sex and hooking up, and there are graphic verbal descriptions of characters having sex, plus lots of twerking, grinding, and other suggestive dancing in skimpy clothing to songs with sexual lyrics. Two characters also have a contest to seduce a man and grope him (or make him grope them). A major plot point involves a character accidentally taking Ecstasy and behaving erratically, and a minor character who's clearly an addict asks everyone he meets for drugs. He's given a small bag of marijuana that belongs to one of the actors and later appears to be smoking meth. None of the sexual behavior or drug use appears to have any negative consequences.
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What's the story?
Nick (Topher Grace) is a Broadway stage manager getting ready for the OPENING NIGHT of his new show: One Hit Wonderland. The musical stars the "other guy" from NSYNC (JC Chasez, playing himself) and Brooke (Anne Heche), a washed up aging actress, as well as Nick's ex-girlfriend, Chloe (Alona Tal), as a chorus girl. When an incident with some giant chopsticks leaves Brooke concussed right as the show is about to start, Chloe must rise to the occasion and take her place. The only problem for Nick is that he still has feelings for Chloe, even after breaking up with her a year ago, and he's still obsessing over his own opening-night mishaps as an actor several years earlier. Meanwhile, two performers -- Malcolm (Taye Diggs) and Brandy (Lesli Margherita) -- are in the middle of a competition backstage to see who can seduce the new bisexual dancer, the props guy who's supposed to be watching Brooke loses her in the pit, the assistant stage manager can't speak, and, despite everything going wrong backstage, it's Nick's job to keep it all together. After all, the show must go on.
Is it any good?
This movie's raunchy jokes and self-referential commentary about theater and "one-hit wonders" aren't funny enough to carry it. What could have been an interesting concept falls flat in Opening Night. The characters break out into popular one-hit wonders both onstage and off, but the purposefully hokey musical numbers aren't as charming offstage. And straight-faced Nick, who proclaims that he hates Broadway, is out of place among the over-the-top, overly dramatic performers he's supposed to be wrangling. Unlike true musicals, where no one questions when the characters break into song, Nick does question it (and often), making it unclear whether we're supposed to embrace the wacky weirdness or mock it.
There are some funny moments, especially in the side plot with Malcolm and Brandy, though their scenes rely a lot on sexual humor. There are also some fun references to NSYNC thanks to JC Chasez, who plays a tongue-in-cheek caricature of a former star. But the relationship between Nick and Chloe, which is supposed to be the heart of the story, comes up lacking. And the movie's messages about seizing opportunities and taking risks -- for Chloe onstage and for Nick offstage -- don't seem that inspiring. Avid theater fans might enjoy a look behind the curtain, but overall, this not-quite-spoof falls short.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the message of seizing opportunities and taking risks in Opening Night. Why can't Nick seem to let go of his mistakes and stage fright? Does Chloe help him, or does she have the same fears? Would things have gone differently if either had more courage?
How much sexual content in media is appropriate for kids and teens? Was the competition between Malcolm and Brandy appropriate or fair? Did they take their flirting too far when they groped the new dancer?
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