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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
It's not OK to use people for your own advantage. It's important to forgive people for their mistakes, even if they've hurt you. It's helpful to have purpose in life. Religious faith can provide structure and community.
Positive Role Models
Evan makes friends quickly at his new school when he's uprooted due to his parents' divorce. He studies to learn his spoken part for his bar mitzvah under the tutelage of a caring rabbi. He learns from his mistakes, which include taking a good friend for granted and messing with other people's relationships for his own personal advantage. Middle schoolers are mostly conscientious about the environment, welcoming of racial and religious diversity, kind to each other, and eager to grow up.
Evan is the only Jewish kid in his new town and school, but his friends are open and welcoming to his religion. His new friend group at school is very diverse. One classmate is in a wheelchair and complains about people feeling sorry for him. A classmate who presents as nonbinary is named Zee (a term sometimes used as a gender-neutral pronoun).
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Violence & Scariness
A middle schooler is bullied when kids throw straws at her and laugh at her climate activism in the school cafeteria. A girl schemes to steal her best friend's boyfriend. Thirteen-year-olds sneak into a slasher film about an axe murderer called The Bloodmaster. The film has blood and scares, which aren't shown on screen, but viewers do see the audience's reactions.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
There's a big build-up to an 8th grade couple's first kiss. Another girl swoops in and kisses the boy first. He says his brain stops working when she's around and kisses him. There are jokes about circumcision and the "hottest rabbi."
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"Suck," "screwed up," "love god," "dumb," "geek," "fool," "dissed."
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Products & Purchases
Sneakers of various brands, Volvo, YouTube, Mac, iPhone, Best Western, Minute Maid.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that 13: The Musical is a coming-of-age tale about a boy learning lessons about friendship and maturity on the eve of his bar mitzvah celebration. Forced to change cities and schools, main character Evan (Eli Golden) is quick to make friends, but he also takes one close friend for granted. He and other kids in his diverse 8th grade class learn about respecting their peers, treating each other with kindness, and also forgiving each other (and their parents) their mistakes. A middle schooler is bullied when kids throw straws at her and laugh at her climate activism in the school cafeteria. Thirteen-year-olds sneak into a slasher film about an axe murderer called The Bloodmaster (the violence isn't shown, but the audience's reaction is). A main storyline involves two kids who've been texting all summer and are ready to date and have their first kiss. There are jokes about circumcision and the "hottest rabbi." Mild language includes "suck," "screwed up," "love god," "dumb," "geek," "fool," and "dissed." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This film aims to capture that unique space between childhood and adulthood, and it features a cute and talented group of kids giving it their all, but it feels formulaic. Why did 13: The Musical need to be a musical? We're raising a generation of kids who all want to sing and dance, and that isn't bad, but not every story benefits from the inclusion. In this case, the musical numbers neither add nor detract from the storyline itself and feel instead like a knock-off concept. As a hint, middle school here looks a lot like high school (since when do middle schools have football teams and cheerleading squads?). In other words, the film might have been benefited from taking the musical numbers out and sticking with just the concept of "13."
The film is bookended by two songs about being that age, and on the day of his bar mitzvah, the main character's mom says he's a "man" now. This uncertainty about growing up was an interesting theme that might have been better developed through dialogue and action rather than song and dance. What's also original here is the set-up of a Jewish kid, about to celebrate his coming-of-age ceremony, who is uprooted and moved to small-town Middle America. His grandma (played by a wonderful Perlman) provides stability, while his mom (a subdued, almost uncomfortable Messing) regains her composure following a messy separation. His bar mitzvah will be the defining moment in his young life and the character's entire raison d' être is to put on a great party. This feels pretty accurate in terms of a young teen's priorities, and Golden offers a relaxed performance. His subtle hints of New York sarcasm are welcomed in this otherwise forgettable package.
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.