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Parents' Guide to

Purple Rain

By Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Prince's rock musical-drama has lots of sex, profanity.

Movie R 1984 111 minutes
Purple Rain Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 16+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 13+

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, and this move catapulted him to superstar status - winning an Academy Award and just about every other award you can think of. Funky, but with enough hard guitar licks to make even the hardest of hard rockers appreciate - this movie shows prince at his peak of stage performance mastery. The story is a bit dark, with abuse, attempted suicide by his father and some just damn wrong treatment of women in the 80's. However, if you talk with your kids about this first, you can appreciate the movie for what it is - a showcase for arguably the best rock performer of all time - Prince. Kids should be at least teenagers to see this movie, and the younger the more they should be talked about the content in it. But it is a classic, and has a very uplifting ending end ending performances.
age 18+
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 this movie. Prince stars as "The Kid," a young man who is just trying to make his way through the world and trying to make music. He's a guy with a horrid home life (abusive father) and it documents the story of his journey. There's lots of stuff in this movie, from parental abuse to the main character slapping a woman across the face; a man and a woman having sex; a woman stripping naked (and briefly flashing the camera) and jumping into a lake in an effort to initiate herself into the main character's band; a fair amount of profanity (including reference in the song "Darling Nikki" to Prince meeting a girl in a hotel lobby as she was masturbating with a magazine to bitter rivalry between two bands. Now, it's a great movie, very well done and, whether you're a Prince fan or not, you should watch it, but it should be reserved for 18+ only due to the mature nature of the material.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (5 ):

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.

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