A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie was extremely popular for the songs Whitney Houston performed for the film. Years after its release, it still boasted the best-selling soundtrack of all time -- but the film itself hasn't held up quite as much, so unless kids are big Kevin Costner or Houston fans, it's doubtful they'll be clamoring to see this romantic thriller from 1992. Be aware that there's some violence, including a bloody knife fight and several scenes involving gunshots and casualties. Kevin and Whitney's characters kiss and have sex, but there's no nudity. Language is standard for an R-rated drama.
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What's the story?
Kevin Costner is Frank Farmer, a former Secret Service Agent for President Reagan who's left government for private security work. His latest gig is to be THE BODYGUARD for an international pop star and actress, Rachel Marron (Whitney Houston, seemingly playing a variation of herself). At first he declines, but after her manager and publicist explain that unbeknown to Rachel, she's been receiving death threats from a stalker, he relents and starts overhauling her security, dictating rules about her outings and otherwise taking control over her safety. Eventually, Rachel finds that control attractive, and the two start an uneasy romance while trying to escape a killer's attacks.
Is it any good?
The reason The Bodyguard scored more than $410 million worldwide is not Costner and Houston's (inexistent) chemistry. It's about the accompanying soundtrack, which to date stands as the highest selling in movie history and features six songs by Houston, including "Queen of the Night," a remake of Chaka Khan's "I'm Every Woman," "I've Got Nothing," and, of course, her signature cover of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You." Although her songs make up half of the soundtrack, she is credited for the album's popularity, which in turn drove people to see the film.
Houston's performance is strengthened by the fact that Oscar-nominated Rachel sings all of the soundtrack's key songs on camera, instead of just having the songs play over scenes. Without Houston's powerful voice, the love story is reduced to schmaltzy dialogue, zero heat between the leads, and Farmer's unexplained obsession with swords and knives. Regardless of whether you're a Houston fan, her talent as a singer is what makes the movie halfway watchable. When she's not singing, there's a temptation to fast-forward.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the film's take on the price of stardom. Is society more or less celebrity obsessed now than in the early 1990s? Why are stars often portrayed as having stalkers, entourages, and self-absorbed personalities?
Kids: Do you think stars are just as important to society as top politicians, the way the Secret Service officers make it seem?
For kids who love romance
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