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Sixteen Candles

Movie review by
Randy White, Common Sense Media
Sixteen Candles Movie Poster Image
Racy, drunken, hilarious '80s high school comedy.
  • PG
  • 1984
  • 93 minutes
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 37 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 60 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

While the movie doesn't raise profound issues, it addresses the difficulty of the teen/high school years in a way that teens can relate to. Sam's happiness is very much wrapped up in a guy.

Positive Role Models & Representations

At the film's center is a plucky teenage heroine with whom girls can identify. That said, the Chinese exchange student is reduced to a grossly offensive stereotype, and Sam's elderly grandparents don't fare much better. Jake is earnestly sweet about his interest in Sam, but he doesn't demonstrate much respect for his longtime girlfriend, Carolyn.


Mild slapstick violence. In one scene, it's implied that a teen boy had sex with a girl while she was passed-out drunk.


Teens and sex are central, with lots of talk about body parts, much of it vulgar. Kissing. A shower scene shows a girl's naked torso. A high school kid coaxes a girl into giving him her panties and shows them to bathroom full of freshmen for a dollar. Drunken sex is implied.


Some use of the words "f--k" and "s--t."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens drink to the point of passing out. Hung-over characters question whether they were intimate while drunk. A woman overdoes muscle-relaxant pills and gets completely loopy.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Sixteen Candles is John Hughes' hilarious '80s high school comedy that has both sharply observed moments and now-dated stereotypes. Although it's rated PG (it was released before the PG-13 option existed), this is an adult comedy with teen characters. The teens drink, have sex, and talk about birth control; in one scene, it's implied that a guy had sex with a girl while she was passed-out drunk. Parents may want to exercise caution with more impressionable kids, and especially preteens or younger. But this smart exploration of adolescent life will be fun for teens and adults.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byThis 17 year ol... August 4, 2009

PG? More like Porno-Graphic!

How can this have POSSIBLY received a PG rating?!? The "f" word was used within 5 minutes! The teens talked about sex constantly. A view of a complete... Continue reading
Adult Written byvengle723 November 15, 2014

not exactly as i remembered it

i was a teenager when this movie came out, and i saw it more times than i can count. i loved it then and i love it now, but coming back to it for the first time... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bymanay_4511 September 25, 2010

This should be rated R for ages 18 and older, but I commened that its for 16 years and older.

This movie is fine, except that it shows a naked girl in a shower in a beginning (breasts are really shown). It should be rated R (restricted). Its a crude, sil... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old February 12, 2011

What's the story?

In SIXTEEN CANDLES, Sam (Molly Ringwald) is turning 16, but her family has forgotten her birthday because of her sister's impending wedding. At school, Sam has a crush on a senior, Jake, who might not know she's alive. Fortunately for Sam, Jake is tiring of his prom-queen girlfriend. With help from a freshman super-geek (Anthony Michael Hall), Jake sets his sights on Sam, but will he find her amidst her sister's wedding chaos to fulfill her birthday wish?

Is it any good?

This '80s film is a hair-raising tour of adolescence. Sam is a girl in the throes of her first crush, and she's desperately insecure about her body. A sublimely awkward dork dogs her heels, alternately yearning for approval and crassly propositioning her. She's infatuated with a senior god and intimidated by his goddess girlfriend.

Sixteen Candles doesn't raise profound issues or craft scenes of special beauty. However, this is John Hughes at his best; he captures the nuances of adolescent slang and recreates the little humiliations that can make teen life a living hell. It's all in the details: When Sam's grandmother checks out Sam's "perky boobies" with a squeeze, you'll wonder how anyone gets through high school.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Discuss Sam's insecurity in Sixteen Candles. How could her family have eased some of the anxiety of adolescence?

  • Discuss the stereotype of Long Duk Dong. How has that stereotype changed today?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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