Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Detroit Rock City

posted by rkumar
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Profanity:The usual words
Nudity/Sex:Typical for a teen comedy, the boys talk a lot about sex
Alcohol/Drugs:Drug use, including marijuana and drinking that results in getting sick
Violence/Scariness:Some violence, characters in peril, hold-up at gunpoint
Diversity Issues:The main characters are sexist, but female characters are strong and smart
Movie Release Date:1999
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
Profanity: The usual words
Nudity/Sex: Typical for a teen comedy, the boys talk a lot about sex
Alcohol/Drugs: Drug use, including marijuana and drinking that results in getting sick
Violence/Scariness: Some violence, characters in peril, hold-up at gunpoint
Diversity Issues: The main characters are sexist, but female characters are strong and smart
Movie Release Date: 1999

This movie follows four high school boys who are die-hard KISS fans in spite of the overwhelming popularity of disco and the objections of the adults (“KISS stands for Knights In Satan’s Service!”) as they do everything they can think of to get seats to the concert in Detroit. There is little originality, wit, or credibility in the script, but in its own way it is genial and unpretentious and ultimately more winning than some recent overly focus-grouped big studio releases.

One of the mothers burns their tickets and carts her son Jam (Sam Huntington) off to a Catholic boarding school that looks like it was dreamed up by Charles Addams. The other three have to figure out a way to spring him and to find four new tickets so they can see the show. This involves taking another mother’s Volvo, feeding hallucinogenic mushroom pizza to a priest, entering a male stripper contest, foiling two separate robberies, stopping to have sex (one couple loses their virginity in a confessional), sneaking backstage, beating up some disco fans, getting beat up by various other people and by each other, and eventually making it into the sanctum sanctorum of the KISS live performance.

Much of the humor in the film will be lost on people who don’t know every KISS lyric and remember the KISS comic with the band’s blood mixed into the red ink. And it is something of a valentine to sex, drugs, and rock and roll, to say nothing of lying, cheating, stealing, destroying property, and cutting school. Furthermore, it is very much a male fantasy movie, with four teen-age boys triumphing over huge bad guys and winning over beautiful women. It also includes one of the key cliches of the teen movie — the character who has sex for the first time becomes suddenly more mature, braver, wiser, and more powerful. Parents of kids who see this movie may want to discuss these issues.

Most kids will not be interested, however. To the extent that the movie has appeal beyond hardcore KISS fans and those who appreciate the 1970’s references, it is due to its young stars (including Edward Furlong, Natasha Lyonne, and Melanie Lynskey) and the loyalty they show to each other, to their idols, and to their dreams. This lends the movie a welcome sweetness that leaves the audience almost as happy that they make it into the theater as they are.

  • Worried Mom

    Unfortunately I have a 9 year old son whose irresponsible father allowed him to watch this movie unsupervised. I have not seen it but am trying to find it so I can see what he was exposed to and explain whatever it is I have to explain. If anyone has seen this movie, please send me an email and tell me how graphic the sex and drug scenes were. I am not sure if he saw the nudity and the act of sex or if they just inferred it. Would a nine year old understand that the mushrooms were drugs? I have no idea.
    Any insight would be helpful.
    Thank you in advance.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks for posting a comment on my site and I am sorry you are distressed by your son’s being exposed to “Detroit Rock City.” At this point, the best thing you can do is ask him in a very low-key, open-minded way what he thought of the movie and ask him to tell you what it is about. That way you will get a sense of what he thought about what he saw and whether he found any part of it confusing or disturbing. Ask him what he thought about some of the behavior — smoking, drinking, cutting school. Answer any questions but don’t explain anything he does not ask about. And perhaps you and his dad can try to set some guidelines on appropriate media from here on.
    I am here as a resource for exactly these questions — please write any time I can be of help.

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