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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Faith -- in people as well as in God or an afterlife -- is about choosing to believe. People need to feel connected to family, peers, community. Sleepaway camp can be a positive, bonding, enriching experience. Foster families can make an immense difference in a child's life.
Positive Role Models
Kristen agrees to take the troubled Will along with her and her teenage son George to Christian summer camp, hoping it will help him turn his life around. George supports the effort, making Will feel comfortable and included. Will struggles with trauma of having lost his parents at a young age, being shifted around between foster families and different schools. He acted out by breaking rules and getting in trouble but maintains his kindness; he gets along with everybody at camp, making an effort to fit in. Avery has also lost a parent, chooses to have faith she'll be reunited with her mom in an afterlife. Kids of different races treat each other equally, get along like brothers.
Violence & Scariness
Will runs from a cop, gets caught, thrown up against a wall, handcuffed. He's threatened with juvenile detention for crimes including vandalism, disorderly conduct, curfew violations, car theft. Teen campers engage in "Warrior Games" that get very competitive, including paintball tournament in the woods with rifle-reminiscent paint shooters and protective gear.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Teens flirt with each other, sing and dance together. Two teens kiss. A boy teases his friend about his "stalker vibe."
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"Stupid," "sucks/sucker," "butt/buttocks," "Jeez," "Jesus freaks," "devil."
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Products & Purchases
Multiple references to past movies include Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Apocalypse Now, Star Wars, Twilight, Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Brands mentioned include Twizzlers, Ovaltine, Craigslist.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that A Week Away is a camp-set Christian musical with messages about following rules, fitting in, and leaning on your faith to help with life's struggles. Expect frequent references to the Bible and God, though Jesus is mentioned specifically only once, when main character Will (Kevin Quinn) jokes about being surrounded by "Jesus freaks." The film portrays Christianity and camp as positive, life-affirming experiences. Even Will, who doesn't appear to have a religious background or strong faith -- and who questions how any God could allow bad things to happen to him -- appreciates the bonding and connection to something larger than himself he feels at camp. Sad scenes revolve around teens confronting the pain of losing parents. Will runs from a police officer and gets caught, thrown against a wall, and handcuffed. Viewers learn that he's been in trouble with the law repeatedly, has bounced between foster families and schools, and is about to be thrown in juvenile detention. Camp is his last chance, and the people he meets there -- especially best friend George (Jahbril Cook), George's loving mom, and crush Avery (Bailee Madison), with whom Will shares some flirtation, dancing, and a kiss -- change his life. Language is limited to "stupid," "sucks/sucker," "butt/buttocks," "Jeez," and "freaks." 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 Christian teen musical looks to ride the High School Musical wave, but despite positive messages and fine performances, it's not likely to leave as lasting an impression. Some aspects of A Week Away's storyline make the film a little hard to believe, while many of the musical numbers lack the energy or catchy melodies of the HSM series. Quinn (Bunk'd) could be a Zac Efron double, and he has the charisma and singing chops to lead the cast, with TV veteran Madison (Good Witch) holding her own in the song-and-dance numbers. Both offer credible performances as teens struggling with deep sadness after losing parents. But as George, newcomer Cook nearly steals the show thanks to his combination of comic timing and vocal range. Most of the film's pleasantly goofy moments involve George.
Viewers are by now accustomed to teens breaking into song in the middle of everyday events, although the popular genre can't be accused of representing teen life very realistically. A Week Away carries an added layer of incredulity in the Christian teens' apparent innocence. While Avery sings about the pressures of trying to be "perfect" and finding one's "place in the world," even bad boy Will comes across as just a nice kid strapped with difficult circumstances. The dialogue doesn't clarify exactly what's going to happen to Will after his week away, making it additionally hard to believe he would so good-naturedly go with the flow at this camp. Still, the film tries to show how religious faith and communal experiences like sleepaway camps can allow teens to feel "connected" and part of something bigger, and there may be nothing that today's teens need more.
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.