Strictly Ballroom



Zany ballroom dance farce is a romantic treat.
  • Review Date: July 21, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1992
  • Running Time: 94 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages
Not applicable
Not applicable

One brief scene of a half-clothed couple in bed.


Occasional mild profanity.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some drinking, with consequences.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there's a bit of cursing, some drinking, and one brief scene with a half-clothed couple (not the protagonists) in bed. Younger kids may need a little help understanding why Fran's father is so outraged over his grown-up daughter's platonic friendship with a personable young man. The "mockumentary" format and the exaggerated, over-the-top humor might leave younger kids lost, but teens and sophisticated tweens will enjoy it.

Kids say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

In a \"mockumentary\" format featuring interviews with various characters, STRICTLY BALLROOM introduces viewers to the glamorous, sometimes absurd, and occasionally cutthroat world of competitive ballroom dance. Hotshot young dancer Scott Hastings causes a scandal by dancing steps of his own invention. His partner is outraged, the president of the Dance Federation is vindictive, and Scott's hyper-competitive mother is mortified. Scott, however, just wants to dance what's in his heart, and he finds an unexpected and at first undervalued ally in Fran, a novice dancer at his mother's studio. The plot is no less satisfying for being predictable. Fran ditches her glasses and her frumpy clothes and turns out to be as beautiful as she is talented. She gains in self-confidence what Scott loses in arrogance, and they evolve into perfect partners (both in dance and romance) just in time for the big competition.

Is it any good?


More than a Cinderella story in tuxedos and sequins, this film balances successfully on a fine edge between farce and drama, keeping our sympathy for the characters while never neglecting the laughs. Plot twists abound, and Fran's wrong-side-of-the-tracks family turns out to know quite a bit about dance and about life. They teach the film's most important message: "A life lived in fear is a life half-lived."

Director Baz Luhrman's eye for lush visual detail never fails, and the dance sequences are a treat. An understated but achingly romantic rumba to a Doris Day song stands out, as do some marvelous scenes with Fran's flamenco-dancing father. This is a feel-good movie with a keen comic edge, guaranteed to lift your spirits. Outrageous, visually delectable, and thoroughly enjoyable.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the film's celebration of artistic integrity and joy over competitiveness. What's more important, playing to win or enjoying yourself? Should Scott and Fran expect to win the dance competition even though they break the rules? It's worth pointing out that unexpected revelations from Scott's hopelessly dorky father and his selfish dancing partner show that even the most unpromising people may have hidden depths of courage and generosity.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 1, 1992
DVD release date:March 19, 2002
Cast:Bill Hunter, Paul Mercurio, Tara Morice
Director:Baz Luhrmann
Studio:Buena Vista
Topics:Arts and dance, Misfits and underdogs
Run time:94 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:comic violence, a few profanities and some mild vulgarity and sexuality.

This review of Strictly Ballroom was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Enchanting dance documentary hits all the right beats.
  • NYC high schoolers saved by ballroom dancing.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent of a 5 and 8 year old Written bykarinajohnson November 27, 2011

Worth watching

Very good. They do swear at times, but overall, it is totally fine for an 8 year old. Maybe younger depending on the kid.
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent of a 10 and 12 year old Written bydddiane May 8, 2010
Fran shows perserverance, Scott learns to march to his own drummer and step out of the status quo. The mockumentary format is funny; the characters are so likeable and the dancing and costumes are amazing!


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Star Wars Guide