Purple Rain

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
Purple Rain Movie Poster Image
Prince's rock musical-drama has lots of sex, profanity.
  • R
  • 1984
  • 111 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Personal suffering inspires art. Collaboration and sharing of artistic work inspires great works.

Positive Role Models & Representations

A man beats his wife and hits his son. A woman skips out on her taxi fare. A striving young artist tries to defend his mother against his father's violent abuse, then abuses his own girlfriend. He dedicates a song to his father, seemingly forgiving the man despite his domestic abuse. He denigrates music written by his bandmates, refusing to feature it in the band's performances in favor of his own compositions. When he learns to collaborate, he becomes a better performer and artist. The misogyny that is widespread in hip-hop music is shown to have precursors in funk, R&B, and rock and roll of the 1980s.


A man hits his wife. The wife loyally stays by his side after an off-screen suicide attempt. Imitating his father, the Kid strikes his own girlfriend. A man tosses a woman in a garbage dumpster.


Naked breasts are shown as is clothed foreplay and suggested intercourse. A female guitarist gets on her knees and puts her face against the Kid's crotch during a performance. Song lyrics explicitly reference "masturbation" and "grinding." A woman's nude back is seen briefly in long shot as she sits astride a man.


"F--k," "s--t," "hell," "damn," "faggot," "bitch," "ass," "stupid," and "shut up."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The setting is the '80s club scene, where patrons smoke and drink alcohol. Morris and Apollonia drink from a flask and stumble drunkenly in the street.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Purple Rain is a 1984 semiautobiographical semi-concert film that now serves as a time capsule tribute to the late pop star Prince. The era is one of costumed excess -- big shoulders, big hair, and androgynous men in eye makeup, tight pants, and high heels -- and unabashed sexual references. Female guitarists wear lace garters on stage. Prince performs sweaty and shirtless. On-stage dances include sexually suggestive moves and an instance of simulated oral sex. Naked breasts are shown, and a couple engages in clothed foreplay with suggested intercourse. The back story features the cycle of domestic violence and its effects on the next generation. A violent and depressed character attempts suicide offscreen. Expect to hear "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "faggot," and "ass."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written bylizbrucecam February 16, 2021

THE movie to show if you want your kids to know about Prince the performer, not the person

This film, while having a weak storyline, is a classic simply for the performances of Prince and the Time.

Prince was ascending as a star when this came out,... Continue reading
Adult Written byBaillie C. June 6, 2017
Let it be said that I adore Prince, and anyone who knows anything about Prince could take a wild (and frightening accurate) guess at what kinds of things are in... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byHarrisonGosling July 28, 2019

Enjoyable movie with an amazing soundtrack - should be fine for teens

This movie should be fine for teens to watch. There is some strong language, a brief sex scene, sex references throughout (and if you have already heard the alb... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old February 10, 2019

Awesome movie!

It really is such a great movie! There are boobs in it, and swearing, but if you have a kid you can trust, then yes, It's awesome!

What's the story?

Performance of the song "Purple Rain" is the dramatic crescendo of this chronicle of an aspiring pop star wrestling with family violence and internalized demons. The Kid (Prince) still lives at home but fronts a band called the Revolution (the name of Prince's actual band), which performs at a local Minneapolis club. Singer-dancer Apollonia arrives in town looking for work. They lock eyes and eventually fall in love. Before that, the Kid's musical rival, Morris (Morris Day), leader of the Weekend, plots to have him booted from the lineup so Morris' girl band, starring Apollonia, can step in. As the Kid deals with his abusive father's escalating domestic violence, his performances deteriorate, threatening the success of his band. It's suggested that he comes to recognize that his family's violence must end with him and that his egomania holds him back artistically. When he's able to share credit with his bandmates and treat Apollonia with respect, he achieves a higher level of achievement.

Is it any good?

This film serves as an enduring record of Prince's talent and charisma, but only devoted fans will tolerate the disjointed, clichéd narrative and inept acting that surround his performances. PURPLE RAIN can also be taken as a record of 1980s boom-time self-indulgence, narcissism, male peacockery, and female self-exploitation. With his coiffed tendrils, puffy shirt, lace gloves, eyeliner, and Revolutionary War costuming, Prince often looks part Halloween pirate and part Napoleon. Still, his gifts as a musician and dancer are clear as he echoes the influences of Little Richard, Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, Sly Stone, and other R&B, funk, and rock-and-roll dynamos.

At the same time, Prince's music presages the work of later artists and the trend in sexually explicit song lyrics. The words to "Darling Nikki" were some of the early examples cited in Congressional hearings that would lead to the music industry stamping parental advisory labels on albums containing profanity and sexual references. The music aside, it's Prince's photogenic face and kinetic presence that make him obsessively watchable even as the rest of the movie flails in mediocrity and incoherence. "Purple Rain" won an Academy Award for best original song score.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the cycle of domestic violence and how children who witness and experience physical abuse are likely to adapt the behavior as their own. How does the movie communicate the Kid's struggle with what he sees at home and how it has affected his own actions?

  • The movie seems to suggest a connection between personal difficulties and artistic expression. Do you believe artists must suffer to create art? Why, or why not?

  • Could it be argued that Prince's sexually suggestive performances and lyrics of decades ago ultimately paved the way to the open profanity widespread in lyrics today? Do you think some music is written with the intention of shocking the audience? Do you think open sexuality and profanity in song lyrics have taken some of the mystery and romance out of courtship and sexual relationships?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love music

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