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Parents' Guide to


By Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Trippy rock opera with drug references and sexual imagery.

Movie PG 1975 111 minutes
Tommy Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 13+

Great movie, but not for kids

Great sixties movie, very iconic, but due to its countless drug references should be kept away from children.
age 15+

A gentle trip through 1970s silliness

Well, I watched this when I was 14 and it did me no lasting damage. On the other hand the grown-up factor of the material made me remember it as being better than it actually is. It is actually... kind of lame. The sex is tame and more implied than actual, the seductive outfits are little worse than you'd find in a James Bond of the same era. The drug use scene is completely over the top and, unlike the public riot, at least half of the interpersonal violence is hidden to the point of being trivialised. The storyline sounds very much like something that my friends and I could have cooked up over a case of cheap beer when we were no older than 22. The philosophy and the message are naive and trite to the point where I would probably not show it to anyone over 18. The comparison with the Wall is inevitable. While the Wall is decidedly solipsistic, Tommy is definitely more concerned with human interactions. Institutions in Tommy are as fluid as they are absolute in The Wall. That, and Pete Townshend may be a bit screwy in the head but he isn't half the emotional trainwreck (complete with baggage car) that Waters is.Before you show your kids both, recognise that Tommy is not an impact movie; The Wall is. Most of the film is, frankly, just silly. You don't need the excessive imagery of the Acid Queen for the drugs are bad, m'kay lecture. But you can definitely discuss the relationship between domestic violence and disability, and you can find a serious talking point concerning religion and cults and the power that they have over the individual, which is a good conversation to have with kids in the throes of pop star fandom.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (5 ):

In an era of quick-cut and computer-generated music-videos, Tommy is still a visual "wow," with its surreal, recurring imagery of circular objects. (Pinballs more obviously, others with a religious-psychological association.) Even watching without the sound, it's an incredible optical journey -- and with the sound it provides a number of energetic tunes, like "I'm Free" and "Pinball Wizard." Seen in full, however, this "rock opera" is more serious stuff than just Guitar Hero licks.

Musician Pete Townsend's real vibe is a morally ambiguous, ultimately disillusioned tale of the rise and fall of a false religious figure (albeit one so innocent he may not be at all aware how he's being used), with provocative and often perverse imagery surrounding his family and disciples, especially sexy mom Nora. Along the way are grotesque and stylized fantasy scenes of violence, drug use, suggested molestation, murder, and religious conformity, and parents should keep that in mind despite the very liberal PG rating.

Movie Details

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