A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Through satire, this movie questions consumer culture, materialism, and greed.
Positive Role Models
Though too cartoonish overall to be considered a positive role model, Nada stands up for what he believes.
Violence & Scariness
A fistfight between two characters goes on for a ridiculous amount of time; some blood. Police move in on a homeless encampment and strike people with billy clubs. Characters do battle with machine guns. Police open fire on a meeting of those resisting the aliens; many are shot and killed. A man is thrown out of a second-story window, falls to the ground, but isn't as injured as one might think.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sex scene -- woman is naked from the waist up, straddling and moaning.
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Frequent profanity: "f--k" and variations, "ass," "s--t," "bitch."
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Products & Purchases
Consumerism is satirized; when a man puts on a special pair of sunglasses, he sees the real messages behind TV commercials, billboards, magazine ads: "Obey," "Marry and Reproduce," "Consume," "Stay Asleep," and so on. Colt 45 ads.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Occasional beer and alcohol consumption, but no one acts drunk.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that They Live is a 1988 John Carpenter movie in which an unemployed drifter (played by "Rowdy" Roddy Piper) comes across a special pair of sunglasses in which he sees that yuppies and many police officers are actually aliens trying to colonize the earth through subliminal messages in advertising. Though this is a campy, satirical, and wildly entertaining classic of a B-movie, there's also quite a bit of violence, including an exaggerated fistfight between two of the lead characters. Police move in on a homeless encampment, striking people with billy clubs. Police fire machine guns on a meeting of humans resisting the alien colonization; many are shot and killed. A woman is naked from the waist up while having sex. Frequent profanity, including "f--k" and its variations. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
As campy as it is satirical, this movie stands the test of time -- it's wildly entertaining and worthy of being called a B-movie classic. The fun of They Live is that it manages to work both as a clever sci-fi lampooning of consumer culture and materialistic yuppies and as a hilarious "so bad it's great" movie with ridiculous one-liners, overlong fight scenes, and absurd plot twists. It's the kind of movie best enjoyed for its own sake; though those with more highbrow tastes will scoff at the acting, action, and dialogue, those looking to have fun through the magic of cinema could do much worse than They Live.
The lead character, played by the late, great wrestler "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and known only as "Nada" in the film credits, is a one-man one-liner machine, tossing out now-iconic quotes such as "I'm here to chew bubble gum and kick ass, and I"m all out of bubble gum" and "Life's a bitch, and she's back in heat." Ludicrous? Cheesy? Sure, but They Live shows that a movie can be hugely enjoyable and stand the test of time without being a cinematic masterpiece.
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.