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Parents' Guide to

Studio 54

By Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Docu about '70s club has sex, drugs, and disco.

Movie NR 2018 98 minutes
Studio 54 Poster Image

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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.

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