What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that two versions of this hit were released on home video, one a PG-rated (more deserving of a PG-13, really) edit, mainly on VHS, and a later R-rated DVD that put back a lot of the original theatrical film's harshest gutter language and vibes. Both detail urban gang-style behavior by the characters – even by nominal hero Tony Manero -- with much swearing, fighting, casual and/or animalistic sex (the most disturbing being a gang-rape at the end), and ultimately deadly mischief. Though Tony ends up seeking a healthier path, his family's Catholic religion has nothing to do with it; in fact, his brother, a priest, quits the clergy, declaring that he has no faith anymore.
- Families can talk about Tony's finding value and self-esteem on the discotheque floor (and in a small raise he gets at his paint-store job) that he says he doesn't receive at home, where he's considered the black sheep. It's interesting that Stephanie, the love interest who helps Tony see the error of his ways, isn't the proverbial "uptown girl" outsider, but someone from his own neighborhood who is trying to actively better herself after "crossing the bridge" into Manhattan society. You can discuss how much of this storyline is specific to New York City and its social classes, and how much is universal -- especially the similarities to other films about at-risk youth, from Rebel Without a Cause to 8 Mile. Also, why do you think this film and its soundtrack are still so popular today?