A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that although the plot revolves around the characters in a little kid's television show, the movie centers on a 13-year-old boy's changing relationship with his family and the world around him, and will work best for that age range. An alcoholic, remote father and a mother who seems to cede all the care of the youngest son to his older brother are not model parents, but love of family helps them cope. A boy is bullied by his peers for being a coward, and there are suspenseful scenes of a near drowning.
What's the story?
In A PLUM SUMMER, 13-year-old Elliott Plumm (Chris J. Kelly) has his hands full with an alcoholic father stuck in his high school glory days (William Baldwin), a distracted mother (Lisa Guerrero), and a younger brother Rocky (Owen Pearce) who is obsessed with Froggy Doo, the biggest children's TV hit in the state. When Froggy Doo is kidnapped, Rocky's anguish compels his big brother to pair up with the new girl in town to solve the mystery of the missing amphibian marionette, while gaining the confidence he needs to confront the problems facing his family.
Is it any good?
The movie hits some wonderful grace notes about the power of love to overcome problems, as well as the importance of forgiveness and redemption. Elliott is a likable kid from the start, and the audience will be rooting for him to find his way as he pedals madly through town trailed by the girl he is too shy to admit he likes, and an almost excruciatingly cute younger brother. The culprits are revealed to the audience before they are revealed to the kids, but that's a minor disappointment in an otherwise sweet tale.
The filmmakers use lush cinematography and a mix of original and oldies music to capture the feel of 1968 small-town Montana. Moments of humor and absurdity, usually in the guise of the two FBI agents assigned to locate Froggy Doo, keep the movie moving at a brisk pace. The relatively benign troubles and triumphs of these country kids, not to mention that the children spend virtually the entire movie outdoors and in action, offer a counterpoint to modern childhood that would be interesting to contrast with kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the fact that this movie is based on a true story. If a major children's television character were kidnapped today, how do you think the reaction would differ from that in Montana in 1968? Why do you think it's so important to Rocky that Froggy Doo be found?
- In theaters: April 25, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: May 5, 2009
- Cast: Chris J. Kelly, Lisa Guerrero, William Baldwin
- Director: Catherine Zelder
- Studio: Fair Play Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Book Characters, Brothers and Sisters
- Run time: 99 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: thematic elements and some mild rude language
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