A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Theme of the folly of following false messiahs, or being a false messiah. Misguided mother's love (perhaps even a little kinky) helps pull off the miracle that allows Tommy to be "normal" again, but it also leads to his torment.
Positive Role Models
While Tommy himself seems a benign, even Christlike figure (stopping a biker-gang war to urge people to follow him in peace and harmony) the religion built around him has authoritarian overtones. Tommy's mother and stepfather are wildly mixed; while they seem to genuinely care and grieve over Tommy's plight they also profit off him, allow him to be abused, subject him to torturous treatments -- and kill his real father
Violence & Scariness
Scenes of wartime bombardment include a dead child, Tommy's father with a bloody, burned face. Tommy's stepfather and mother are slain, non-explicitly but with some blood. Tommy is roughed up. A girl gets a bloody face in a near-riot to get close to Tommy. A violent biker-gang battle includes gun blasts, kicks, punching and men dragged with motorcycles.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sexualized imagery of women, including Tommy's mother, in clingy and plunging-neckline outfits, writhing provocatively in some especially lurid scenes. A bevy of young women in gas-masks, bras, and panties. Tommy is sexually molested (offscreen; the lights literally go out) by his Uncle Ernie. Tommy's stepfather at one point runs a strip club (no women shown though). Tommy's mother Nora is naked (but covered by sheets, or submerged in water) with each of her husbands.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Tommy is injected (unrealistically, in a weird Transformer-lookalike device) with psychotropic drugs by the "Acid Queen." He seems to enjoy it, even with bloody/nightmare imagery. Cigarette smoking. Much drinking in Tommy's family, and his mother has a stumbling, drunken musical number. Hard liquor is ritualistically drunk in a parody of Catholic Communion wine. The whole movie might well be described as "trippy."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this famous rock-opera spectacle is full of drug and alcohol references and lots of sexual imagery (though no explicit nudity). Tommy is injected with mind-altering drugs by the "Acid Queen" and he seems to enjoy it, even with associated nightmare imagery. Some females, especially Tommy's mother, cavort in sexy, revealing, and form-fitting costumes. Scenes of wartime include a dead child. Tommy's real father suffers a bloody, burned face. Tommy is sexually molested (offscreen) by a male relative. A violent biker-gang battle includes gun blasts, kicks, punching, and men dragged by motorcycles. Some religious imagery including a statue of Marilyn Monroe standing in for the Virgin Mary could be offensive to some. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
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.
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.