A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Don't cheat on your taxes. Innovators are sometimes reviled as much as they are praised. Looking back, Schrager laments certain behaviors. "What were we thinking?" he asks.
Positive Role Models
Steve Rubell was a gregarious social butterfly who enjoyed being the public face of the Studio 54 collaboration. Ian Schrager is an introvert and design savant who preferred to remain in background.
Violence & Scariness
The IRS raided the club and arrested two of the club's partners and owners.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Waiters and busboys go shirtless, wear short shorts. Dancers bare their breasts on the dance floor. Bare buttocks are briefly seen in old footage, stills. A balcony floor was covered in rubber for easy cleanup after guests had sex there. People are seen kissing and dancing seductively. A penis is seen in a painting. "Sex was in the air," says one Studio 54 patron. Blow jobs are mentioned.
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"F--k," "s--t," and "blow job."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
People smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, use many other drugs, including cocaine and quaaludes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Studio 54, a 2018 documentary, takes its title from the name of the short-lived New York City social experiment/discotheque of the 1970s created by two college classmates from Brooklyn. Interviews with those who were there describe a night club filled with celebrities (Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Andy Warhol, Liza Minelli) mixed with beautiful and bizarre people, dancing, drinking, doing drugs, and having sex with abandon. In montages of stills from the era, the ecstasy and freedom of a place that welcomed all races and all sexual orientations are on display, and nudity is seen a few seconds at a time. Two of the club's owners were charged with drug possession, fraud, and tax evasion, and did a few years of time. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," and "blow job." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Filmmaker Matt Tyrnauer's documentary does a good job training a magnifying glass on a moment in time when attitudes about sexual mores and sexual orientation were beginning to change. Studio 54 focuses on one particular element of the change, a night club, and all the ways in which the work and vision of its upwardly mobile creators -- Rubell and Schrager -- were innovative and cutting edge. But did a New York hot spot that specialized in sex, drugs, and disco nurture along a cultural change already brewing in America? Perhaps, but other influences were also at work.
More troubling, the film doesn't question at all the wisdom of valuing and worshipping celebrity and hedonism. It doesn't question the way the club shunned what Rubell dubbed the "bridge-and-tunnel" crowd, partiers who came from New York neighborhoods that weren't as cool as Manhattan. The irony that Schrager and Rubell were themselves bridge-and-tunnel guys who made it in Manhattan isn't explored at all. And parallels between the Studio 54 era and the excesses of Berlin in the 1930s are ignored, a glaring omission given how badly things turned out for Germany not too long after. Teens old enough to understand what would drive revelers to gather and share hedonistic nights may wonder what all the fuss is about.
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.