Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
Showgirls Movie Poster Image
Borderline porn cult "hit" with drugs, rape, topless fights.
  • NC-17
  • 1995
  • 131 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 15 reviews

Kids say

age 17+
Based on 17 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Theme about a strong woman holding on to her integrity and not lowering herself to become a "whore" even though mired in the sex-show trade. But the whole movie is so sleazy it strongly gives the opposite message. Nomi's moral victory: abandoning her topless career to avenge (toplessly) her one true friend.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Only one character, Molly, seems thoroughly decent (though she works backstage on an upscale sex show), and her "reward" is assault and rape. Brash heroine Nomi is repeatedly disparaged as a "whore," a label she fights (but third-act revelation is that she really is one, with a rap sheet). Plenty of negative racial stereotyping to go around:  Asians are shown as leering businessmen, etc.


A (topless) kickboxing attack. A young woman is beaten and gang-raped. Backstage catfighting, reckless driving, bad falls on the dance floor and backstage (some caused deliberately).


Extensive female nakedness -- full-frontal and back-end -- or barely-there attire. Some rear-end nudity of the male lead. Sex, graphic pole dancing, lapdancing, and topless Vegas production numbers that are unsubtle mimicry of oral sex, even rape. Prostitution.


Comprehensive, with versions of "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "p---y," "t--s." Two small children of a showgirl hear the f-word backstage and cry.


Numerous Las Vegas real-life casinos, restaurants, and attractions in the backdrop. A strong materialist vibe puts emblems of hot cars, boats, and fashion in your face. The clothing label Versace is a running detail. Mention of Janet Jackson, Paula Abdul and the Alvin Ailey dance company.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Plenty of cocaine-snorting (though heroine Nomi abstains, she turns out to be a past crack user), talk of marijuana. Social and recreational drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this film was adults-only for a reason. As Showgirls gradually enters into the nudie-show environment, topless dancing and sex (often in combo, a la prostitution) become frequent and stop just short of hardcore pornography. Violence includes a brutal gang rape of a sympathetic female character and a man is also beaten viciously. Practically every nasty word there is comes out at one point or another. Characters are stereotyped. A "milder" R-rated cut is available,  but this is a review of the more widely available NC-17 movie.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byDanhadthem April 5, 2020

It's a good movie

My son watched this at twelve. I would have been mad, but I realized he's going through changes, and porn can be an interest. I told him it was okay, and t... Continue reading
Adult Written byBruhpoggger November 16, 2020

You get what you came for

I think this is just the type of movie that we need more of but it should be better. If you watched this movie, don't complain about that it's inappro... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byReviews4movies July 20, 2019

Normally don’t rate for older kids but this movie was explicit, but pretty good

Definitely a NC-17 movie, amazing for adults, but absolutely not for kids
The movie is basically soft-core porn, lots of language and alcohol

My rating: 18A f... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byPanipuri October 21, 2015

Just one word - Eww...

I saw this movie last year and parents JUST DON'T LET YOUR CHILD UNDER 18 TO WATCH IT. OR THIS MOVIE IS ALSO DISTURBING FOR SOME ADULTS TOO. So actually i... Continue reading

What's the story?

Nomi Malone (Elizabeth Berkley), a young, attractive, and assertive drifter covering up her troubled past, hitchhikes to Las Vegas only to be robbed of her meager possessions. Nomi finds sanctuary sharing a trailer with Molly (Gina Ravera), a kind-hearted costumer who works on "Goddess," an erotic-topless musical revue in one of the biggest gambling casinos. Nomi dreams of dancing in a show like that, but meanwhile earns money as a stripper and lapdancer at a raunchy night club called Cheetah's. Crystal (Gina Gershon), the haughty star showgirl who headlines in "Goddess" finds out about Nomi and loses no opportunity to try and humiliate the hopeful newcomer, as Nomi rises through the ranks of topless-showgirl-dom and is drawn into an affair with Crystal's steady boyfriend (Kyle MacLachlan), a powerful casino executive.

Is it any good?

Between stripper-hookers, promoter-pimps, hateful choreographers, and creepy gay chorus boys, there's nobody to root for -- but everybody worked hard on the dancing, obviously. Critics were near-universal in their hatred -- a merciful Roger Ebert judged Showgirls bad but never boring, and some call it a "cult" film. It still failed to bring real usefulness to the NC-17 rating other than to make everyone take notice of a movie best forgotten. And quickly.

Notorious even before premiering, SHOWGIRLS tested the MPAA NC-17 rating for adults-only material. NC-17 got stamped on arty/indie film before; this was the first time a mainstream NC-17 blockbuster went wide with an ad blitz. Alas, the same "edgy" guys who made Basic Instinct went to extremes of bad taste with this flagrantly borderline-porno; a stew of stripper-stardom, drugs, ghastly boyfriends,  betrayal, and bare booties/breasts. It pretends to be a moral story of an indominatable girl resisting 100 percent degredation and exploitation -- but hey, this is about topless Vegas dancers (she bails at about 99.05234 percent degredation).

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the choices Nomi and the other characters make. What (if anything) ennobles Nomi as more heroic than the other showgirls?

  • Themes of backstabbing women in the same profession are handled much better in the classic All About Eve. Which movie seems more realistic?

  • Why do you think this movie is NC-17? Did it dissuade viewers from seeing it? Find out more about ratings controveries in the mature documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated.

Movie details

  • In theaters: September 22, 1995
  • On DVD or streaming: July 17, 2007
  • Cast: Elizabeth Berkley, Gina Gershon, Kyle MacLachlan
  • Director: Paul Verhoeven
  • Studio: MGM/UA
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 131 minutes
  • MPAA rating: NC-17
  • MPAA explanation: nudity and erotic sexuality throughout, and for some graphic language and sexual violence.
  • Last updated: September 20, 2019

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