Common Sense Note
Parents need to know that this popular comedy is also very deservedly R-rated. It has sex (both in comical fantasy scenes and reality), nudity, profanity, glorified substance abuse, and an especially jaundiced outlook: a teen embarks on the road to manhood by becoming a part-time pimp, and the message is that in modern America that's a wise move, financially and socially. Because the young hero is played by good-guy star Tom Cruise, and because his character escapes punishment in the end, young viewers might interpret this as an endorsement, not a subversive satire.
Sex and prostitution are key plot ingredients, with brief full-frontal female nudity, and girls in skimpy, provocative clothes. Simulated sex, in dream sequences and even in public places, and talk of masturbation. One sex worker is a cross-dressing man.
Reckless driving and car collisions; a gun waved around.
The F-word is used repeatedly, including in what would be the script's catchphrase: "Sometimes you just have to say 'What the f--k.'" Plus "s--t," "asshole," and "damn."
Though Joel "Goodson" (that name is Irony 101) doesn't get to keep his ill-gotten earnings, he otherwise escapes punishment in the end and wins much greater prizes: a boost in life and an evident discovery of his destiny, which is to become rich and materially successful. He doesn't seem "evil" or "corrupt" in the traditional sense (he worries about the welfare of his girlfriend-whore Lana even as he believes she used and betrayed him), but definitely has no problem with being a pimp. Prostitution looks like a temptingly glamorous (and self-empowering) career choice, and just about all female characters are treacherous tramps or harsh authoritarians. Obviously this was meant as satire of 1980s values, but it comes across as close to an endorsement.
The status-symbol Porsche automobile and Princeton University get major thumbs-up.
Drugs / Tobacco /
Much tobacco-smoking, specifically intended to signify a young character as "cool." Underaged drinking of alcohol and smoking of marijuana.