A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this Disney TV movie is a positive choice for tweens, who won't be able to help picking up on its messages about appreciating things like a loving family and loyal friends. There’s no iffy content to speak of, making it an age-appropriate choice for all but very young kids -- but tweens will reap the most benefit from tuning in. Abby’s journey through her possible near future offers an eye-opening (if slightly exaggerated) glimpse of where selfish endeavors and misguided priorities can take a person, giving parents a prime opportunity to chat with their tweens about their own desires for their futures.
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What's the story?
Abby Jensen (Debby Ryan) has lived her whole life in anticipation of her 16th birthday, when she’s sure that all of the dreams on her birthday wish list will come true. When a mysterious visitor delivers a unique set of birthday candles, she discovers that lighting them corresponds with making some her dreams a reality. A new car and the attention of the cutest boy in school are all fun and games until one of her wishes has unexpected -- and unwanted -- results, leaving her racing the clock to figure out how to get her old life back.
Is it any good?
With its gentle reminders about the value of self-respect, good friends, and a supportive family, 16 WISHES has a lot to offer tweens. Just as valuable are its clear cautions against superficial happiness (i.e., donning designer clothes, hobnobbing with celebs, and catching the eye of a hunky classmate). Abby’s glimpse at the troubles that her selfishness can cause is a good caution against the same behavior, and hopefully tweens will think twice about their own priorities as a result.
With parents’ help, this funny, feel-good movie can do more good than just entertain your kids -- be sure to chat with them afterward about their impression of its messages and how it makes them feel and think about their own hopes and dreams.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's intention. Does it aim to entertain, teach you something, or both? How well does it succeed? What did you learn from the movie? Does a movie or show need to have a "lesson" to be likable?
Tweens: What kinds of things would be on your own wish list? How do you prioritize the things you want? What do you value most in your life?
How does the media influence our desires and ambitions? What messages do commercials, TV shows, and movies send to us about what it means to be successful? How do these messages compare to your own idea of happiness?
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