Preteen girl looking at a cell phone with her parents

Personalized picks at your fingertips

Get the mobile app on iOS and Android

Parents' Guide to

The Boys in the Band

By Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Play-based drama has language and nudity.

Movie R 2020 121 minutes
The Boys in the Band Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 1 parent review

age 15+

Of historical and personal value

The movie is provocative mainly in terms of the characters and their interactions. Of course, the scenes of nudity, drinking and smoking, and swearwords might also be provocative for some people. However, the movie provides some interesting insight in the gay community (and gay psyche) of the pre-HIV era, as well as in the "hidden character" of those days – especially the effect it had on individuals. The movies has an extraordinary cast, and is well executed.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (1 ):

While the original stage version was ground-breaking for 1968, this film adaptation is not. Today The Boys in the Band feels dated and tired, like a museum diorama depicting quaint practices and rituals from ancient times. Some truths from the Mart Crowley play, however inarguable, lie lifeless and unhelpful here, especially compared to two other sharp and heartbreaking gay dramas also set in the past -- Brokeback Mountain and Call Me by Your Name. Even the 1961 Basil Dearden work, Victim, one of the first English-language films to use the word "homosexual," feels more relevant and meaningful for today's audiences than Boys. Given the messages from family, employers, the religious world, and society, it's unsurprising that the men here are filled with anxiety and self loathing. This piece was written before the author could anticipate the horror of the AIDS crisis only a decade away, but the film can't be viewed today without that eventuality looming.

Given enduring negative attitudes toward gays, as well as against immigrants and people of color, the most useful takeaway here may be that marginalizing any community destroys lives and hurts people. Gay rights may protect some people, but there are still many places in the world where retribution remains harsh and even fatal. Look for the film's brightest spark of life in the form of Robin de Jesus as Emory. He reins in the clichés, showing instead nuanced emotion, an irrepressible optimism, and a foundation of decency. A little bit of that can take a movie far.

Movie Details

Inclusion information powered by

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.

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

See how we rate