A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Rent is the 2005 movie adaptation of the hit Broadway musical. The mid-1990s musical addressed topics like AIDS awareness and love regardless of sexual orientation at a time when America was beginning to be more tolerant and accepting of the LGBTQ community, and the movie also addresses these themes head-on. The movie also celebrates being true to yourself, nonconformity, and the ups and downs of artists trying to stay true to themselves without selling out in a New York City on the verge of serious gentrification. Some drug use -- characters shown buying, and for a few seconds, shooting up heroin, and later going through withdrawal symptoms. Brief female nudity -- one of the lead characters moons a table of yuppie developers at a bar. One of the lead characters makes a living as a stripper, is shown dancing provocatively - -spreading her legs, taking cash from customers before sliding her hand down her panties. Some sexual references in songs --talk of masturbation and female sex toys. Some violence -- an outdoor performance art piece ends when bottle-breaking audience members get into an altercation with billy club-swinging police officers. Some marijuana smoking. Language includes "f--k" and "s--t," among other words.
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What's the story?
Based on the hit Broadway musical (which, in turn, was based on Puccini's La Boheme), RENT focuses on eight artist friends who struggle to pay their rent and contend with disease, addiction, violence, and love in a gritty New York City neighborhood. From aspiring filmmaker Mark (Anthony Rapp) to heroin addict/exotic dancer Mimi (Rosario Dawson), each character has his or her own challenges to deal with and demons to face.
Is it any good?
An energetic rock musical, Rent features one big number after another. Chris Columbus' movie version of Jonathan Larson's Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning big doozy rock musical took nearly 10 years to reach the screen. It focuses on the resilience of a new generation of oppressed "types," assorted victims of prejudice, poverty, addiction, and disease. Featuring six of the original eight stage cast members, Rent is beset by awkward transitions between numbers (song ends, fade out, next song), and exposition conveyed by lyrics. The performers sing their stories and desires, framed by cheesy hooks, sing-talking them when the language just becomes too cumbersome for crooning. (This device, too familiar from Andrew Lloyd Webber works, is either wearying or rousing, depending on your tolerance level.)
Still, Rent does offer up real ideas about class hierarchy. Everyone here is concerned with property -- intellectual, amorous, and geographic -- and no one seems able to work for money, save for Mimi, who spends it on heroin. Mark eventually takes a job with the "sleazy" tv tab show Buzzline, where he learns (as expressed in the song "What You Own"), "When you're living in America / At the end of the millennium, / You're what you own."
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the many topics this movie addresses. How are these topics as relevant today as they were when the musical first came out in the mid-1990s?
How does the movie address the importance of a tight-knit community, and what community means for these characters?
What do you think the challenges would be in adapting a hit Broadway musical to the silver screen?
- In theaters: November 23, 2005
- On DVD or streaming: February 21, 2006
- Cast: Anthony Rapp, Jesse L. Martin, Rosario Dawson
- Director: Chris Columbus
- Studio: Columbia Tristar
- Genre: Musical
- Topics: Arts and Dance, Music and Sing-Along
- Run time: 135 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: mature thematic material involving drugs and sexuality, and for some strong language.
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