What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Rags has strong messages about friendship, self-confidence, and overcoming adversity, and its clean content makes those lessons accessible to a range of ages. The story raises some good discussion points about celebrities' status and how their public images differ from their private lifestyles. Heavy marketing and a cast of familiar Nickelodeon stars -- including How to Rock's Max Schneider, Drake and Josh's Drake Bell, and Victorious's Avan Jogia -- make this a must-see among existing tween viewers, and they won't be disappointed by the funny, heartwarming story ably handled by the talented crew. That said, it's obvious that the movie is designed to showcase the vocal talents of its young cast . . . and possibly to promote the movie's soundtrack.
What's the story?
Rags stars Max Schneider as Charlie Prince, an orphaned teen doomed to a hard-knock life under the thumb of his controlling stepfather, Arthur (Robert Moloney), who lives to promote the mediocre careers of his spoiled sons, Andrew (Keenan Tracey) and Lloyd (Burkely Duffield). Charlie dreams of being a singer, but big breaks are hard to come by in the Big Apple. Vocal megastar Kadee Worth (Keke Palmer) seems to have the world on a string, but she gets little satisfaction from her predesigned career and an image that's nothing like her true personality. When a chance encounter brings these two dreamers together, they find unexpected inspiration in their friendship, encouraging each to find a new inner voice and the courage to share it with the world.
Is it any good?
The traditional Cinderella tale gets a gender twist in this sappy-sweet story about a downtrodden young man who battles the odds to have a chance at his own fairytale ending. There are some fun parallels between the classic version of the story and Rags -- loyal friends who sew a glittering ensemble for the ball, bickering step-siblings whose vanity makes Charlie's humble nature even more gleaming, and even a strict midnight curfew with dire consequences -- but its fresh-faced cast ensures it's anything but a trite remake. Predictable? Yes. A bit cheesy? Perhaps, but the wholesome story makes for feel-good family viewing.
Of course, when all is said and done, music is a big part of this movie, and in today's media climate, that means that a soundtrack isn't far behind. While the story is strong enough to rival the musical numbers for viewers' affection, it's not a stretch to think that the movie is crafted to highlight the components of a lucrative CD accompaniment. This is nothing new to kids who are familiar with the likes of Wizards of Waverly Place, iCarly, and any other series populated by vocally talented actors, but be forewarned that your little fans may be asking for a soundtrack next.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how the media influences our view of celebrities. What kinds of things have you read or seen about your favorite TV or music stars? Does this information ever change your impression of them? Should we always believe what we see and hear in the news?
Kids: What barriers stand between Charlie and Kadee and their dreams? Who in their lives act as mentors to them? How do role models help us accomplish our goals? What are the rewards of finally reaching our goals?
Were you familiar with any of the stars in this movie before you watched it? If so, did knowing them beforehand affect your decision to tune in? What are some other ways in which TV, music, and other influences change our preferences and buying habits?