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The Buddy Holly Story Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 12+

Bio of '50s music icon has great music, positive values.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Buddy Holly Story is a good-hearted look at a rock 'n' roll pioneer that contains lots of great music and none of the melodramatic excesses of many musical biopics (no drugs, no overt sexuality, no self-destructive behavior). Only the credits at the end of the film reveal that Buddy Holly died in a plane crash on the night after the final performance in the film. There's occasional swearing, with repeated use of some expletives: "hell," "sh--t," "bastard," "damn," "ass," and more. When a bigot utters a racial slur, Buddy Holly counters with slurs of his own to embarrass the offender. Alcohol is consumed in several scenes; one character drinks too much and gets drunk. Some cigar and cigarette smoking consistent with the time period.

  • Families can talk about how Buddy Holly is considered one of the most influential creative forces in early rock 'n' roll. What do you think there was in his music that inspired such artists as the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and the Rolling Stones?
  • How did parents and society in general react to early rock 'n' roll music? Are there parallels to more current music (rap, Lady Gaga, heavy metal)? What does this say about the challenges that occur in a changing culture?
  • How does this movie deal with race? What did you learn about music's role in race relations in this time period? What kinds of stereotypes are challenged or reinforced in The Buddy Holly Story?

The good stuff
  • message true3

    Messages: A strong message about how working hard and pursuing goals enthusiastically results in good fortune and success. Shows how rock 'n' roll promoted racial integration for music fans before the civil rights movement began to significantly change the culture.

  • rolemodels true4

    Role models: Unlike most modern film biographies of musical stars, in this bio (part-fact, part-fiction) Buddy Holly is shown as a music powerhouse who doesn't engage in self-destructive activities (i.e. drinking, drugs, womanizing). He's steadfast, loyal, and unchanged by fame and fortune. In addition, he's a staunch defender of African American musicians and wholeheartedly joins them onstage. Music industry personnel are portrayed as honest, well-meaning, and unselfish.

What to watch for
  • violence false1

    Violence: A brief scuffle; someone breaks down a door.

  • sex false2

    Sex: Some kissing. Teenagers in 1960s are necking in a parked car; the boy tries to touch the girl's breast. Buddy and his wife are shown in bed together.

  • language false3

    Language: Occasional swearing and coarse language: "hell," "s--t," "Goddamn," "sonofabitch," "bastard," "for Christ's sake," "ass," "play with myself." Also some racial slurs used by the hero to shame a bigot: "dark meat," "nigra," and the "N" word.

  • consumerism false2

    Consumerism: Coca Cola, Jell-O, Dr. Pepper, RCA, CBS, Vertigro.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Some drinking in social settings, including toasting with champagne to celebrate. The Crickets' drummer is seen drinking alcohol in numerous scenes and getting drunk before an important appearance. Occasional smoking of both cigarettes and cigars.

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