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West Side Story | 2021 | PG-13 | – 5.6.5

content-ratingsWhy is “West Side Story” rated PG-13? The MPAA rating has been assigned for “some strong violence, strong language, thematic content, suggestive material and brief smoking.” The Kids-In-Mind.com evaluation includes an implied rape, two implied sex scenes with partial nudity, a few kissing scenes, many conversations about love, a few fight scenes leading to deaths by stabbing and gunshot with bloody wounds shown, many arguments, many racial references, many encounters with the police, and at least 1 F-word and other strong language. Read our parents’ guide below for details on sexual content, violence & strong language.


Remake of the eponymous 1961 musical, by way of “Romeo and Juliet” and Broadway: A young man (Ansel Elgort) and a young woman (Rachel Zegler) fall in love but their respective communities do their best to keep them apart. Also with Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, Rita Moreno, Brian d’Arcy James, Corey Stoll, Mike Faist, Josh Andrés Rivera, Iris Menas, David Aviles Morales and Sebastian Serra. Directed by Steven Spielberg. Many lines of dialogue are spoken in Spanish without translation. [Running Time: 2:36]

West Side Story SEX/NUDITY 5

 – A shirtless young man sits up in a bed and a young woman partially covered by sheets sits up next to him (we see his bare chest and abdomen and her bare shoulders and sex is implied). A young man and a young woman kiss and walk into a bedroom; the young man closes the door and sex is implied.
 A young man and a young woman climb out of a crane compartment and kiss; the young woman is wearing a cropped top and short-shorts that reveal cleavage, bare abdomen, back and legs to the hips. A young man wearing a tank T-shirt (we see his bare shoulders) pulls a young woman closely and they kiss. A young man and a young woman dance under bleachers at a dance and the young woman kisses the young man, surprising him; they kiss again and she leaves when her brother calls her. A young man and a young woman sing about love in several scenes; during one scene, the young man climbs a fire escape and the two touch hands through the metal works and they kiss. A young man and a young woman kiss; he then kisses her hand.
 A woman in a church sings about having sex with her boyfriend after a fight with a rival gang. A young man and a young woman sing about their love and take a vow to be together forever. A young man tells a young woman, “I want to be with you forever.” Two young men talk about having been friends for a long time and they say, “womb to tomb” and “sperm to worm.” A young man and a young woman talk about getting married and the man says that he wants a lot of kids; the woman replies, “Get a cat.” A young woman complains of a headache and a woman tells a man that she has her “monthly.”
 People dance at a community sponsored dance party and women spin and kick their skirts up to reveal bare legs and undergarments. Women and young women wear low-cut dresses that reveal cleavage and bare shoulders in several scenes. A woman wears a low-cut dress that reveals cleavage.

West Side Story VIOLENCE/GORE 6

 – Two groups of young men enter a salt storage warehouse, close the doors and prepare to fight: two young men move to the middle of the groups and one punches the other in the stomach and face repeatedly (we see his bloody face), young men goad the punched young man to fight back and to “Stop flirting with him, and close his eyes,” and one young man pins the other on the ground and punches him repeatedly (we see his face swollen and bloody); two young men arm themselves with knives and fight slashing at each other until one is stabbed in the chest and another is stabbed in the abdomen (they both lie on the ground motionless with bloody wounds shown), and the other young men fight each with bricks, pipes, bats and chains (we see several with bloody wounds) until the police arrive. A young man shoots another young man in the back twice and he falls to the ground with bloody wounds showing; he then dies.
 Several young men surround a young woman and are threatening, they call her names, they tell her to dance for them, and she slaps one young man in the face; they push two other young women out of the area and they shove the first young woman, pull at her clothing as they pin her to the floor and it is implied that they try to rape her (they are interrupted by a woman entering the room and yelling at them).
 Many young men steal paint and paint brushes and throw and smear paint on a wall that has been decorated with the flag of Puerto Rico; many other men and young men charge them and a fight breaks out, punches are exchanged, a young man is struck in the head with a paint can, three young men chase another that climbs on the back of a truck and spills fruit off the back causing the young man chasing to slip and fall, and one young man is chased and tackled by several others (we hear him scream) and we see that a nail has been driven through his earlobe (blood is on his ear and neck) until the police arrive. A young man shoves another young man and he falls back against bleachers without injury. Young men bump into each other while on a dance floor and they threaten each other angrily, accompanied by many others. A woman slaps a young woman in the face when she sees her kissing a young man that she suspects killed her boyfriend.
 Two young men fight over a gun, they tussle and shove each other, wrestling over the gun and one takes it away from the other. Young men in a diner try to buy a gun to use in a fight; a man grabs the gun and points it at one young man that presses his head against the barrel. Several young men run through the rubble of demolished buildings playing with a gun and saying “pow, pow, pow.” Four young men lunge at another young man and he pulls a gun and points it at them. A young woman takes a gun from a young man and asks how to use it; she points it at several young men and threatens to shoot each of them and then herself. Young men arm themselves with chains, bats, pipes, bricks and stones.
 Many scenes show young men causing property damage; one scene shows them tearing down a sign that belongs to a Puerto Rican storeowner and that was covering an Irish Pub sign; another shows them painting over a Puerto Rican flag painted on a wall (a fight ensues). Many scenes show police clashing with two groups of young men and trying to stop them from fighting or causing property damage; officers tell them to disperse and that they are being evicted from the area, while one group declares that they have rights.
 A young woman says, “I can kill now, because I hate now.” A woman tells a young man that his love is dead and he is distraught. Two young men argue and one tackles the other when he calls him a girl and says that when he pantsed him once, he saw that he was a girl. A young woman yells at a young man and pounds on his chest calling him a murderer and a killer; they both cry. A young woman says, “I wouldn’t dance with a white boy,” when questioned by police. A man yells for people to “control the aggression” at a dance. Young men talk about and negotiate the terms of a fight between two gangs. A young man and his younger sister argue about her seeing a young man and he tells her to stay away from him. Young men sing about being destined to be bad because their mothers are all junkies and their fathers drunks. A young man tells a young woman that he went to prison and that he, “Busted up this kid, one more punch and I would have killed him.” A young man says of another young man, “he was in prison because he beat the snot out of somebody.” A woman tells a young woman that she should stay with her own kind. A young man tells a young woman, “Go back where you came from.” A young man says, “Pop yourself, you blister.” A police officer makes a derogatory reference to a migrant population “popping out kids.” We hear that a young man went to prison for a year for assault. A young man threatens to hurt someone if they smile at his young sister at a dance. A young man is told that an injury will leave a scar and he celebrates the idea.
 A woman licks herself in a cage in a police station while young men argue and fight outside the cage. Many scenes show an urban area in rubble and we understand that buildings are being raised for a new development.
 Two dead young men are shown in a morgue as sheets covering them are lifted for a young woman to identify her boyfriend. A young man has a scar on his face.

West Side Story LANGUAGE 5

 – At least 1 F-word, 7 sexual references (2 in Spanish), 7 scatological terms, 5 anatomical terms, 4 mild obscenities, 3 derogatory terms for Puerto Rican people, 1 derogatory term for Polish people, 2 derogatory terms for Italian people, name-calling (amigo, jefe, muchacho, common gangster, crazy, puta, insane, dizzy, liar, mess, sick, psychologically depraved, deprived, bastard, disturbed, feckless, fool, pig, Chiquita banana, buddy boy, blister, delinquents, garbage, friend or foe, no good, anti-work jerk, traitor, ugly, schmuck, misunderstood, bad, biological disaster, old witch, slum, dead battery, daddy-o, gringo, dead man, big dumb [derogatory term for Puerto Rican people deleted], clowns, little animals, rapists, hyena), exclamations (golly gee, vamos, wake up, go away, friggin, in a pickle, goodness gracious, shut-up, ever mother lovin’), 3 religious profanities (GD), 10 religious exclamations (e.g. Christ Almighty, Jesus wept, my God, God, Jesus, Jesus, Christ, lyrics in a song refer to a woman’s name sounding like praying, you don’t have the sense God gave a pigeon, Christ). | profanity glossary |

West Side Story SUBSTANCE USE

 – A young man talks about going to get some beer and some weed, and young men sing about their parents having so much marijuana but never sharing it with him. A woman drinks a glass of rum. Young men smoke cigarettes in many scenes throughout the movie.

West Side Story DISCUSSION TOPICS

 – Racism, gentrification, true love, turf war, respect, gangs, hope, promise, hate, racial inequality, gender identity, shame, crime in America, fitting in, migration, assimilation.

West Side Story MESSAGE

 – True love transcends adversity. Hate breeds violence.

CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.


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