When people call this the greatest musical ever, what they mean is the most entertaining. Packed with jokes, songs, and seemingly impossible feats of dancing. If you can’t find something to enjoy here, you might be dead.
You may want to try to explain the era of silent movies to your child. But that’s only to help them understand the jokes. In one scene as Gene Kelly crosses a soundstage, he passes a set in which presumably white performers with makeup-darkened skin dance in African native costume. (One is on a smoking break.) The moment will barely register.
Better Each Time You Watch It
As comedy for kids is concerned, it’s hard to argue with the sight of someone repeatedly falling down, or getting hit in the face with a board. The first time he saw Donald O’Connor’s antics in “Make ’Em Laugh” my boy laughed so hard he peed his pants. As Lina Lamont, Jean Hagen gives a comedic vocal performance for the ages—anyone in the family with an ear for mimicry will try to replicate it. (They can’t.) When I saw the movie projected for the first time, in high school, it leaped to the top of my all-time favorites and hasn’t been unseated since. It’s a perfect film for owning, to warm your house as you do chores on a rainy Sunday afternoon. There are moments that can drag for kids—the “Beautiful Girl” fashion show, and the thirteen- minute “Broadway Melody”—but the energy of Gene Kelly, O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, and everyone involved keeps the movie popping. —