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Sing Street

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Sing Street Movie Poster Image
Brilliant (if edgy) musical drama celebrates creativity.
  • PG-13
  • 2016
  • 106 minutes
 Parents recommend

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 4 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Persevere and follow your dreams, stay true to your own voice, and have fun while you're at it -- even if that means making mistakes and sometimes losing your way.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Conor may be a bit defiant to the priests who run his school, and he's sometimes cheeky, but at heart he's a well-meaning, hugely creative, and collaborative guy who just wants to make his art, deepen his friendships, keep his family together, and go out with the girl he likes. His parents' marriage is falling apart, which affects him and his siblings, but his siblings are protective and supportive of him.

Violence

Loud arguments between parents within earshot of their children; a bully at Conor's new school punches him on the first day and tries to get him to do something that makes Conor uncomfortable. Frequent schoolyard fights. A priest/school administrator roughs up a student for wearing makeup and clothing that doesn't conform to the dress code, shoving his face under running water in a sink. 

Sex

Siblings discuss their mother possibly cheating on their father. Some talk about sex. A mom is shown switching on a sex toy (though not using it), and there's talk of a twentysomething man running off with a 16-year-old girl. 

Language

Language includes "s--t," "bitch," a homosexual slur, and more. 

Consumerism

Brands/products glimpsed/mentioned include a VW Cabriolet car and MTV.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A 15-year-old boy's older brother smokes weed and cigarettes in front of him. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Sing Street is a winning, thoughtful musical drama from the director of Once that celebrates creativity. There's some edgy content: Characters swear (mainly "s--t," plus a homosexual slur and some other rough words) and smoke (both cigarettes and pot), and there are some disturbing scenes of teen bullying. A marriage falls apart in front of the family's children; there's also some sex talk, and a mom is shown turning on a sex toy. And adults/authority figures aren't always shown in a positive light, but that helps make the movie what it is: a rallying cry to be bold, take chances, and make mistakes on the way to self-expression. It's steeped in music and will likely make adults who watch it with their teens nostalgic for the 1980s -- and motivated to help their kids discover classic acts.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bystephenVi2 May 1, 2016

Amazing, Emotional, and Unpredictable

Every teenager and parent MUST watch this. It is truly unbelievable. It has great music and great directing and also captures the essence of the 80s. It truly i... Continue reading
Parent of a 9 and 11 year old Written bynoejacks July 16, 2016

Movie of the Year

Yes, this movie is definitely edgy with some violence and salty language and may not be appropriate for sensitive kids, but it is nothing short of amazing and t... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old April 18, 2016

Wonderful and brilliant comedy/drama is filled with swearing, sex jokes.

My rating:PG-13 for frequent sexual references, brief partial nudity, and strong language.
Teen, 13 years old Written byJoibird February 17, 2018

What's the story?

In SING STREET, life as he knows it is about to change for Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), a 15-year-old Irish teen living in 1980s Dublin with a stoner older brother, Brendan (Jack Reynor), a studious sister, and parents who can no longer contain their disdain for each other. The economy is in dire straits, and neither Mom nor Dad has a job that can sustain the family's upper-middle class lifestyle. So Conor is transferred to a rough-and-tumble school run by the Christian Brothers, where a walk through the courtyard can mean a punch to the head (among many other physical, visual, and verbal assaults) and where there's a foreboding sense of end-of-the-road. Thank heavens for music, to which Conor escapes regularly with his guitar and songs -- aided in part by Brendan, who has dropped out of school and has no idea what to do next besides inspire his younger sibling to dream bigger and do better. When Conor meets Raphina (Lucy Boynton) -- a girl a year older than he his (though she seems much more) who declares she's a model -- Conor decides to form a band and make a music video so she can be in it. Meeting kindred musical spirits sends Conor off on a journey he hadn't anticipated but is surely the right road for him. 

Is it any good?

Few films are truly perfect, but this one comes pretty close. A clear labor of love from John Carney, the filmmaker who brought us Once and Begin Again (two films in which music plays a key role in the protagonists' turnaround), Sing Street is a coming-of-age film that doesn't stick to the usual cliches but instead taps into a teen's genuine yearning for experience, wisdom, and transcendence. And it does so while making significant observations about marriage, religious dogma, education, and the economy -- all institutions on which we rely and which can either fail us or teach us at crucial moments.

Movies that pay homage to other creative endeavors -- in this case, 1980s music -- often come up short because the versions they replicate pale in comparison to the originals. But in this case, as with Carney's other films, the songs are clever, catchy, original, and nostalgic all at once. Bravo! 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Conor's journey in Sing Street -- both musical and emotional. How does music help him grow and change? What role does it play in his life? 

  • How is the subject of bullying handled? Is it relatable? What's the best way for teens to respond to bullies?

  • How does the story demonstrate the power of perseverance? Why is that an important character strength?

  • How does the movie handle the subject of failing marriages, especially in how they can affect children? Have you/anyone you know gone through something similar?

  • How is substance use portrayed in the movie? Is it casual? Glamorized?

Movie details

Character Strengths

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Themes & Topics

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For kids who love music and drama

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