A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Girl in Progress illustrates the importance of open communication between parents and children. Grace isn't really aware of what Ansiedad is going through, and it causes an emotional rift that could have been avoided had the two talked more openly and shared their feelings. Ansiedad's misguided attempt to grow up offers an important example of how trying to act like a grown-up before you're ready is a bad idea. She hurts her best friend, nearly destroys her academic career, and nearly has sex for the worst of reasons.
Positive Role Models
Not many positive role models, especially considering that Grace is openly the "other woman" in an adulterous relationship and actually flaunts the affair in front of her daughter. (But to her credit, Grace doesn't steal or take money from her lover to pay for Ansiedad's tuition.) The doctor doesn't seem to mind carrying on his affair while lying to his wife. Ansiedad is a shiftless teen desperate to become an adult: she lies, steals, manipulates, and insults others as long as it's part of her rite-of-passage checklist.
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Ansiedad describes her mother as promiscuous, and Grace is shown getting ready in a sexy outfit to meet her lover, a married man. Grace and the doctor are shown half dressed on the floor (presumably after sex); they kiss a few times. Ansiedad tells a guy she wants him to "take her virginity" at a party; they proceed to share a kiss (her first), and then the guy is shown shirtless in the bathroom fumbling with a condom. Ansiedad strips down to her bra and panties and then throws her panties on the floor. Although they don't end up having sex, they run out of the room, and everyone calls Ansiedad a slut, as the guy says, "I hit that."
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Teens say the word "retarded" or "tard" many times, and in one scene, a bunch of people chant the word "slut" to Ansiedad. One girl is called "fat" and a "cow." Language also includes "stupid," "shoot," "damn," etc.
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Products & Purchases
Grace drives her friend's old Volvo wagon, and a BMW is shown a couple of times. A Macbook Pro makes a brief appearance.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens drink -- a lot -- at a couple of parties. Ansiedad convinces an adult to buy a bottle of tequila (under the premise that it's a birthday gift for her mother), and she gives it to the group throwing the party. A couple of adults smoke cigarettes and/or a pipe. Graces drinks so much at a party that she wakes up hung over. A male nurse at a home for the elderly regularly drinks from a hidden flask.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that even though there's plenty of questionable behavior from both parents and teens in Girl in Progress, it's also a cautionary tale about what happens when you try to be an adult before you're ready for the consequences. In the main teen character's search for rites of passage to experience, she insults and dumps her best friend, steals money from her mother, changes her appearance, manipulates an adult into buying alcohol, and plans to lose her virginity to the school's resident "player." The language is mostly insults (particularly the word "retarded" and its derivatives), but sexual content includes some mature scenes of the mother and her married lover kissing (sex is implied) and a sequence in which a teen casually tries to schedule her "deflowering" (she's shown stripping to her panties and bra, and the guy is seen shirtless as he fumbles with a condom). This is the kind of coming-of-age tale that can spark substantive conversations between parents and kids. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Newcomer Ramirez nails her character's self-aware (but completely misguided) attempt to check off various rites of passage in order to reach the intangible goal of adulthood. The young actress carries her half of the story with confidence, and when she has her "epiphany" that some things aren't worth sacrificing for the sake of becoming an adult, it's difficult not to be touched by her vulnerability. And Disney star Rodriguez is adorably sweet as the put-upon best friend who helps Ansiedad until it hurts too much to be around her self-destructive BFF.
While Ansiedad's cluelessness about the way life works is easily explained by her youth, Mendes' character, Grace, is difficult to relate to or empathize with because she makes such reprehensible decisions -- like flaunting her adulterous relationship in front of Ansiedad or generally seeming unaware of her daughter's life unless the principal calls her in for a meeting. Grace's storyline is less interesting by far than Ansiedad's, although it's clear that Grace is really the one who has some growing up to do. The idea of forcing a coming-of-age story is clever, but the mother and daughter dynamic isn't as volatile or intense as necessary for such a conceit to seem necessary. Still, GIRL IN PROGRESS is exactly the kind of movie that a mother and teen daughter could see and have a lot to talk about afterward.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.