A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that while The Big Chill's aging Baby-Boomer protagonists deal with adult issues like suicide, drug use, and infidelity, and the film has an R rating, its soundtrack remains one of the most perennially appealing -- and mostly family-friendly -- collections of '60s Top 40 tunes ever assembled. Originally released in 1983 on the Motown label, it includes a hefty dose of hits from such stars as Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, and Smokey Robinson, as well as bouncy pop from The Rascals and Three Dog Night.
What's the story?
In 1983's The Big Chill, a group of aging Baby Boomers gather for the funeral of a friend who has committed suicide and confront issues of love, death, betrayal, and forgiveness -- fueled by the music that became part of their DNA back in the day thanks to pop radio. The resulting anthology leans heavily to Motown hits (including Marvin Gaye's \"I Heard It Through the Grapevine,\" Smokey Robinson's \"The Tracks of My Tears,\" Aretha Franklin's \"(You Make Me Feel Like) a Natural Woman\") augmented by Top 40 pop (The Rascals' \"Good Lovin',\" Three Dog Night's \"Joy to the World\"). Procol Harum's \"A Whiter Shade of Pale\" is the only nod to the British Invasion -- and to the darker realities of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll often associated with '60s music.
Is it any good?
When The Big Chill first burst on the scene, its soundtrack garnered as much love as its plot and cast (which included Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Mary Kay Place, Meg Tilly, JoBeth Williams, and Don Galloway). Over time, THE BIG CHILL SOUNDTRACK has aged more gracefully: While the movie seems a bit dated, the songs here have lost none of their appeal. The album is a classic introduction to Motown and a cheerful, pop-y revelation to anyone who thinks the '60s were all about acid rock and angry young men.
Since the soundtrack's first release, it's been the subject of endless griping about missing tracks, starting with the famous absence of the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want." Some of these omissions (though not the Stones track) are remedied on a double-album version, released in May 2012, which also includes tracks not included in the film at all.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether they like this music as much as many people do, and if so, why? What are your favorite songs?
Do the classic teen pop songs "Tell Him" and "Good Lovin'," released decades ago, still work?
Is this the first time you've heard music by Motown artists? Do you think you might like to check out some more?
For kids who love teen pop
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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.