Information for Parents
Common Sense Media says Iffy for 14+
Trippy rock opera with drug references and sexual imagery.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this famous rock-opera spectacle is full of drug and alcohol references and lots of sexual imagery (though no explicit nudity). Tommy is injected with mind-altering drugs by the "Acid Queen" and he seems to enjoy it, even with associated nightmare imagery. Some females, especially Tommy's mother, cavort in sexy, revealing, and form-fitting costumes. Scenes of wartime include a dead child. Tommy's real father suffers a bloody, burned face. Tommy is sexually molested (offscreen) by a male relative. A violent biker-gang battle includes gun blasts, kicks, punching, and men dragged by motorcycles. Some religious imagery including a statue of Marilyn Monroe standing in for the Virgin Mary could be offensive to some.
- Families can talk aboutthe messages and symbols of the movie. What do you think the filmmakers were trying to express? Was it successful? Did anything in the movie make you uncomfortable -- if so, why?
- Is Tommy a positive or negative character? Is he a symbol of something?
- Talk about how men and women are portrayed in this film. What roles do women play and why? How does sexuality figure into the story?
The good stuff
Positive messages: Theme of the folly of following false messiahs, or being a false messiah. Misguided mother's love (perhaps even a little kinky) helps pull off the miracle that allows Tommy to be "normal" again, but it also leads to his torment.
Positive role models: While Tommy himself seems a benign, even Christlike figure (stopping a biker-gang war to urge people to follow him in peace and harmony) the religion built around him has authoritarian overtones. Tommy's mother and stepfather are wildly mixed; while they seem to genuinely care and grieve over Tommy's plight they also profit off him, allow him to be abused, subject him to torturous treatments -- and kill his real father
What to watch for
Violence: Scenes of wartime bombardment include a dead child, Tommy's father with a bloody, burned face. Tommy's stepfather and mother are slain, non-explicitly but with some blood. Tommy is roughed up. A girl gets a bloody face in a near-riot to get close to Tommy. A violent biker-gang battle includes gun blasts, kicks, punching and men dragged with motorcycles.
Sexy stuff: Sexualized imagery of women, including Tommy's mother, in clingy and plunging-neckline outfits, writhing provocatively in some especially lurid scenes. A bevy of young women in gas-masks, bras, and panties. Tommy is sexually molested (offscreen; the lights literally go out) by his Uncle Ernie. Tommy's stepfather at one point runs a strip club (no women shown though). Tommy's mother Nora is naked (but covered by sheets, or submerged in water) with each of her husbands.
Language: Not an issue
Consumerism: Not an issue
Drinking, drugs and smoking: Tommy is injected (unrealistically, in a weird Transformer-lookalike device) with psychotropic drugs by the "Acid Queen." He seems to enjoy it, even with bloody/nightmare imagery. Cigarette smoking. Much drinking in Tommy's family, and his mother has a stumbling, drunken musical number. Hard liquor is ritualistically drunk in a parody of Catholic Communion wine. The whole movie might well be described as "trippy."