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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Though Joel doesn't get to keep his ill-gotten earnings, he otherwise escapes punishment in the end and wins much greater prizes: a boost in life and an evident discovery of his destiny, which is to become rich and materially successful. He doesn't seem evil or corrupt in the traditional sense, but definitely has no problem with being a pimp. Prostitution looks like a temptingly glamorous (and self-empowering) career choice, and just about all female characters are treacherous tramps or harsh authoritarians. Obviously this was meant as satire of 1980s values, but it comes across as close to an endorsement.
Positive Role Models
Teen characters drink, smoke pot, have sex with prostitutes. Lead character becomes a quasi-pimp as a way to raise a lot of money in a short amount of time.
Violence & Scariness
Reckless driving and car collisions; a gun waved around.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sex and prostitution are key plot ingredients, with brief full-frontal female nudity, and girls in skimpy, provocative clothes. Simulated sex, in dream sequences and even in public places, and talk of masturbation. One sex worker is a cross-dressing man. Lead character shown having sex with a girl who is initially a prostitute, but later becomes his girlfriend. Lead character begins to masturbate in bed. He allows a friend of his and his girlfriend to use his bedroom for sex; they are heard having sex as the lead character and his friend try to study. Reference made to various sexual acts and practices as a character reads the most X-rated classified ads to his friend.
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"F--k" is used repeatedly, including in what would be the script's catchphrase: "Sometimes you just have to say 'What the f--k.'" Plus "s--t," "a--hole," and "damn." Euphemisms for sex and masturbation.
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Products & Purchases
Lead character drives a Porsche, repeats the slogan of the car's advertising campaign of the time.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teen characters get high on marijuana; drink whisky, beer; smoke cigarettes and pipes. Lead character smokes, cultivates a "cool" image with sunglasses and a cigarette. Underage drinking, among other things, at wild party.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Risky Business is a dark 1983 teen sex comedy that launched the career of Tom Cruise. This popular comedy earned its R rating. It has sex (both in comical fantasy scenes and reality), full-frontal female nudity, profanity (including "f--k"), glorified substance abuse, and an especially jaundiced outlook: A teen embarks on the road to manhood by becoming a part-time pimp, and the message is that in modern America, that's a wise move, financially and socially. Because the young hero is played by good-guy star Tom Cruise, and because his character escapes punishment in the end, young viewers might interpret this as an endorsement, not a subversive satire. This movie is from a time when cigarette smoking was still widely viewed as part of a cultivated "cool guy" image, and that look is embraced right from the opening scene. Teen characters get high on marijuana and drink alcohol as well. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This dated but appealing comedy is so much more than just a bunch of dirty jokes in the locker room. Though RISKY BUSINESS arrived with a busload of D-grade teen-sex comedies inspired by Porky's (and a young Tom Cruise had even starred in one of them, the little-remembered Losin' It), critics immediately recognized that this was a much smarter, sharper dark comedy about American values in the 1980s. Joel (who also belongs to a school-age business group called Future Enterprises) is like the nice, well-bred kid next door who attains personal and professional rewards not through the traditional paperboy route, but through vice. The lesson at the end is that, yes, this is the way the game is played, even if the "respectable" adult world pretends otherwise.
The question for parents is whether kids watching this perverted Horatio Alger story will comprehend that it was meant to be a commentary on Reagan-era greed and upper-class criminality.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.