A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this popular 1980s-era tale of greed and corruption is filled with strong language and sexual references, as well as a condescending attitude toward women. Characters smoke and drink, but not to excess. The main character eventually comes around and realizes what's really important in life: his relationships.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) works for a brokerage firm, impatiently trying to make a living through cold-calls. Fed up, he talks his way into a meeting with high-roller Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas). Gekko takes a liking to Bud and shows him how to make some real money on Wall Street, even if the methods are a bit shady. Bud begins to enjoy his newfound wealth and power, as well as a high-class girlfriend (Daryl Hannah). He starts to set up a deal to save the small-scale airline business run by his good-hearted father (Martin Sheen), but discovers that Gordon is more interested in making money than in helping people. So Bud must decide whether to sacrifice everything he has worked for in the name of family, love, and loyalty.
Is it any good?
Directed by Oliver Stone, and dedicated to his stockbroker father, WALL STREET plays out with Stone's usual bombastic intensity. Some of the 1980s-era details may seem a bit dated, and the movie's attitude toward women is slightly despicable, but the overall story arc, echoing the "Faust" tale, is timeless. It can be on the predictable side, but movie as a whole is still effectively seductive.
It's telling that Michael Douglas won the movie's only Oscar for his portrayal of Gordon Gekko, who is something of a devil/Mephistopheles character, and effortlessly steals the show away from the more heroic characters. Eventually, right wins the day, but the movie is more memorable when Gekko, like the Grinch, is being bad. (And it's still remembered for Gekko's infamous "greed" speech.) Additionally, Wall Street manages to capture the mood and methods of Wall Street without getting too complex, and the overall story is told clearly and well.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about greed. Is it good? Is it possible for businesses to work without being greedy?
Why is the Gordon Gekko character the most seductive and the most interesting? How do we come to see him for the first time? What does he represent?
Was Bud really happy when he was rich and working for Gordon? Can money and objects buy happiness for a short while? For the long haul?
What other media is a commentary on excess and greed? Is it still glorified? Expand your thinking to outlets that didn't exist in the '80s like Reality TV (My Super Sweet 16, for example).
For kids who love dramas and redeption tales
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
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.