A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Victor/Victoria is a musical-comedy-romance about a young woman who pretends to be a man working as a female impersonator. Set in a world of nightclubs, lavish hotels, and exhilarating music, the film looks at homosexuals, cross-dressing, women's roles, and all kinds of love. It's light in spirit, as well as both funny and earnest in its plea for acceptance of individual differences. It portrays gay men both in and out of the closet, drag queens, a smattering of homophobia, and, at its core, a heterosexual woman fighting for her personal rights. Slapstick violence (nightclub brawls, some solid punches, black eyes, and bloody noses) accompanies the wide-eyed picture of Paris at night in 1934. Though sexual roles are at the heart of every scene, actual sex is restricted to scenes of couples (gay and/or straight) in bed together, kisses, references to impotence and orgasms, and lots of revealing clothing -- both on and off stage. There is frequent profanity ("s--t," "ass," "piss off"), and there are insults ("old queen," "fairy," "queer, "faggot"). Alcoholic beverages are consumed in numerous scenes, in clubs, at home, in restaurants, and there's some cigar and cigarette smoking as well. Despite the fun, engaging characters and top-notch music, the subject matter makes this for older and mature kids only.
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What's the story?
Victoria Grant (Julie Andrews) is a down-on-her-luck soprano in VICTOR/VICTORIA. She can't find a job, has been evicted from her shabby hotel room, and hasn't eaten in days. Enter "Toddy" Todd (Robert Preston), another newly jobless candidate for life among the destitute. Fortuitously, Toddy has heard Victoria sing, and when the two meet for the first time while in the process of scamming a restaurant for a meal, Toddy is hit with what will turn out to be a brilliant idea. Paris is a veritable paradise for female impersonators, and with Victoria's voice the two could join forces, create "Victor," and set the city ablaze. After only a moment's hesitation, Victoria is onboard and so begins an adventure in deception, daring, and endurance. The talented "Victor" sings and dances "his" way to the Parisian heights, complicated only by the fact that he/she is captivated by King Marchand (James Garner), an American hotshot who can't believe he, in turn, is attracted to a man. Much merriment ensues, especially when King's main squeeze, Norma (Lesley Ann Warren), and bodyguard (Alex Karras) start to question everybody's gender.
Is it any good?
Amazing how a funny, provocative movie about the LGBTQ community made in 1982 can be relevant and entertaining and deliver an emotional charge decades later. Nominated for multiple Academy Awards -- particularly notable are Preston and Warren, who turn stereotypes into performance gold -- the film is energetic, clear-eyed, and unselfconsciously respectful of alternate lifestyles. The cast is terrific. The music and musical production numbers are stellar -- Andrew's performance in "Le Jazz Hot" is a classic, as is Robert Preston in "The Shady Dame from Seville." And everyone is supported by sharp direction and editing, great sets, costumes, and an off-the-wall story that manages to be just believable enough despite the fact that it stretches credulity to outer space and beyond. Highly recommended for those who appreciate terrific filmmaking, blowing up stereotypes, and movies that have a contemporary viewpoint. For mature kids only.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the fact that this film was made in 1982. Based on subject matter and attitudes, does that surprise you? How groundbreaking do you think it was at that time? How is it relevant today?
A movie's "look" is created by an art department led by the production designer (and supervised by the director and producers). Which elements did this film's art department use to capture the visual look of the 1930s? Add to your movie "literacy" by finding out which other crew members (and departments) are included in the production design and the art direction.
A "farce" depends upon exaggeration and fanciful, even preposterous situations. Would you consider the violence in this movie "farcical"? How do filmmakers create such farcical (or slapstick) action? How is audience response different when viewing violence that is meant to seem real?
- In theaters: April 2, 1982
- On DVD or streaming: April 4, 2000
- Cast: Julie Andrews, James Garner, Robert Preston
- Director: Blake Edwards
- Studio: MGM
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs, Music and Sing-Along
- Run time: 132 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- Awards/Honors: Academy Award
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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