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Movie Review

Moulin Rouge!

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content

Reviewed by: Hillari Hunter

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Mature Teen to Adult
Musical Romance Drama
2 hr. 7 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
May 16, 2001 (NYC, LA)
Relevant Issues
Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor in “Moulin Ridge”
Featuring: Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, Jim Broadbent, John Leguizamo, Richard Roxburgh
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Producer: Baz Luhrmann, Fred Baron, Martin Brown
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox

Christian (Ewan McGregor) is a writer who has just moved into a squalid apartment in Paris, circa 1899. He meets diminutive artist Toulouse Lautrec (John Leguizamo), who’s rehearsing a play he hopes to show at the Moulin Rouge.

Lautrec sets up a meeting for Christian with Satine (Nicole Kidman), the star of the cabaret, who’s also a courtesan. However, Satine’s boss, Zidler (Jim Broadbent), has arranged for the star to meet with a rich duke who is interested in bankrolling a show. The foppish Duke agrees to put up money for a production, promising to make Satine a real actress, but he also wants to possess her as well. Satine and Christian are forced to hide their romance. Unbeknown to both Christian and the Duke, Satine carries a secret that will have a negative effect on everyone.

Take away the music, costumes and the dancing, and “Moulin Rouge” is just the same old boy meets girl story we’ve seen hundreds of times. In fact, the story’s predictable end is given away within the opening scenes. The movie is like being on an amusement park ride, and you can’t take it seriously. McGregor and Kidman aren’t bad singers, and the story depends on their charm. Instead of using period music, the characters sing 20th century pop and rock tunes. Some of the songs fit, like “Nature Boy”, “Lady Marmalade” and “Your Song”. “The Sound Of Music” does not. It was also a stretch to use “In The Name Of Love” which refers to Dr. Martin Luther King.

There is no profanity. There is a scene where Zidler sings “Like A Virgin” to the Duke. Homosexual undertones are evident. Violence is at a minimum. The sex in the movie is implicit, but the whole night club setting is heavily sensual.

Viewer Comments
I must admit that I’m surprised so many folks felt the film was offensive. The Mya/Pink/Li’l Kim/Christina Aguilera video of “Lady Marmalade” is probably racier than the movie itself! The message is that love and human compassion, not sex and money, are what are to be desired. The sexuality, language, etc. was quite tame in my opinion, and the filmmaking, while probably unsettling to some, was quite dazzling and breathtaking, and at moments, gloriously romantic. Kidman and McGregor were both well-cast and pleasantly-voiced, and McGregor was just delightful and charming. I think sometimes one has to look beneath the surface to see the true meaning. In no way does the film glamorize the shallow world it portrays, any more than “Schindler’s List” glorified the Nazi Holicaust. Give this one a chance…
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Shirliee, age 40
Unlike its title, this movie is redeeming and worth seeing. While it is set in a prostitution house in Paris, the theme is that love conquers all… even lust and the love of money. Obtuse, narrow-minded people might see only the surface of this movie, which is quite naturally wicked. Yet that isn’t the main theme of the movie; underneath is a beautiful love story which is very moving. I highly recommend this movie to adults 18 and over. (Certainly, I don’t advocate anyone under 18 watching this movie. But we all know that the movie “ratings” don’t tell us anything.)
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Tad, age 28
…I am a relatively liberal-minded person, but I found the movie Moulin Rouge very offensive. I am a huge fan of the movie industry, and I have never walked out of a movie before in my life. I always manage to find some redeeming quality. But this was the first movie I had to walk out of. I was embarrassed that I had asked other people to see it with me. I can’t imagine who would take their 13-year old to see this movie.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive / 2]
—Deneé, age 20
The major theme of this film is the triumph of love over materialism, and of course those buzzwords you’ve seen in all the ads and posters—beauty, freedom, and truth. The writer’s didn’t dwell on being irreverent, they focused on making a spectacle which will set the audience’s feet a-tapping and jerk tears from their eyes all at once. They do a great job. The movie is incredibly fun, the lines will crack you up (unless you’re lacking a sense of humor), and the music is absolutely spectacular—you’ll find yourself smiling whenever the actors burst out into a song you know from the radio and your own collection.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Lauren, age 19
I went to this film not knowing what to expect but was very pleasantly surprised. It sweeps you away with wonderful music and a whole lot of energy that makes you want to stand and clap at the end of every song. The setting of the film was perhaps its only draw back. Although it made for an interesting storyline, I have to say that it glorified prostitution as an acceptable profession. Overall, I would recommend this film to adults only.
My Ratings: [Average / 4½]
—Joshua Fortier, age 21
This is a beautiful movie about love. It may be immoral. But it does teach us good love lessons. I also enjoyed the fact that the movie was not just a [sex-filled] movie… It showed just enough.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Petrus, age 20
I personally left the theatre feeling very confused about how to take this film. While I really enjoyed the love story, the rest of the movie was really in my opinion unnecessary. The cinematography for the first 45 mins was very interesting. It almost made you dizzy. To say the least this film was VERY vulgar, and I think it should have received an R rating instead of PG-13. DO NOT LET YOUR 13 YR OLD SEE THIS! I think the thing that really made you wonder what the director was thinking was the soundtrack. I mean how can you portray 1900 Paris with a soundtrack including songs from Madonna, Elton John, and Whitney Houston etc… I don’t know, to sum it up, it was a very WEIRD experience. I should have gone to see Pearl Harbor.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 3½]
—Cari, age 24
This movie could have been good if that would have changed the setting and took out all the sexual references. The couple was a likeable pair. The movie was too corny… It tried too hard to be funny. A very disappointing movie.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 2]
—Lora, age 33
It is a very intense and touching drama about the power of love to transform us and redeem us and improve our lives. I personally felt incredibly uplifted by watching the young poet faithfully and purely love and care for Satine and show her her real worth and attempt to rescue her from her life of prostitution, and by watching how both of them learned to open their hearts and accept love into their lives. Yes, there are scenes with sexual content, and so this film would be for mature audiences, but I feel that to criticize and reject it out of hand would be misguided. Just because something immoral, such as prostitution, is shown in a film, does not mean that the filmmakers are necessarily advocating that action or lifestyle. In fact, the love of the poet inspires Satine to not sleep with other characters like the Duke and to want to leave the Moulin Rouge and her old life. This is almost like a parable of the main message of the Bible-how God’s love reaches out to us and changes us and frees us to live better lives and love others. To me, this was an excellent movie, both morally and theatrically, and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who, like me, loves art and cultural history or just enjoys a good love story!!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Cristina Deptula, age 18
My husband and I were hoping that after we adjusted to the very unique style of this movie, we could find some redeeming qualities in what we thought was a love story. We did enjoy some of the music, but certainly not enough to offset the barrage of trash. We finally could not take any more and walked out! The word “vulgar” best describes this silly movie. At least we are now able to warn other parents not to let their children of any age see this offensive, silly movie.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 4]
—Roxanne Suggs, age 39
Maybe I’m being too easy on this movie, but given the reputation of the real Moulin Rouge, this movie is G rated. There’s one scene of simulated arousal that’s offensive and most of the rest of the questionable material is turn of the century can can dancing (hardly offensive by today’s standards even if you do see a woman’s bloomers). I was very surprised with the lack of vulgarity for a movie set in what is basically a strip club/whorehouse. This movie is too much fun to dismiss and discerning viewers will enjoy the music and direction while still understanding the sinful choices and lifestyles of the characters.
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—Joe, age 28
Moulin Rouge, does adopt a deconstructionist style, which many people may find difficult to get used to. Nevertheless whether the producer intended it or not the movie is jam packed with Christian ideals. The love between the two main characters is pure and real. Through this love the main character Christian (not coincidental I think) played by Ewan McGregor, helps Satine (Nicole Kidman) discover the dignity she has as a human being. She is transformed and purified by being loved and seeks to turn away from her old life where her worth was based on how much men would pay to be with her.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Shaune Larder, age 21
ANYONE WHO THINKS THIS MOVIE IS ACCEPTABLE FOR 13 YEAR OLDS IS INSANE! The movie was vulgar in parts, humorous in parts and just really, really bad in parts! The BEST part of the movie was Ewen McGregor (good acting and singing), unfortunately, not good enough to make the movie worth seeing. I’m not sure why we didn’t walk out—several people did! Do not take your children (of any age) to this show!
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/ 2]
—Michelle, age 36
The movie does require a certain taste and imagination for the music and cinematography, but overall I thought the director captured the Bohemian life rather well. Although the movie does discuss sex and prostitution, it shows them as being a bad thing. The movie is somewhat vulgar (not something I would want a young child to see) but the love story overshadows the rest in my opinion.
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
—Christin, age 18
Movie Critics

…the movie’s romantic worldview promotes erotic frenzy in the name of love…
—Dr. Ted Baehr, Movieguide
…discussions of courtesans (and being paid for sex), bordellos, and erotic dances…
…Although it features no noticeable foul language or significant violence, the sexual content and neutral treatment of immoral lifestyles make MOULIN ROUGE “quite objectionable…
—Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…Some may dig Luhrmann’s deconstructionist, irreverent style, but the movie is too gimmicky and pleased with its irreverence to connect emotionally with audiences…
—Kirk Honeycutt, The Hollywood Reporter