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 movie is about an 11-year-old girl whose mother died five years earlier trying to negotiate a new school and find the right role model. A cherished teacher must leave school for heart surgery, but recovers. The tween heroine suffers what she considers incredible social embarrassment, repeatedly.
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What's the story?
In ALICE UPSIDE DOWN, 11-year-old Alice McKinley (Alyson Stoner) has a double challenge: to adjust to life as the new kid in school in Silver Spring, and to find a female role model who can help negotiate the mysteries of growing up in the absence of her deceased mom. Her father (Luke Perry) and brother Lester (Lucas Grabeel) are well-meaning but clueless about Alice's inner turmoil, which reaches a fever pitch as the curtain rises on the school play. Will Alice learn to value her true gifts instead of coveting the successes of her classmates?
Is it any good?
The movie, based on the book The Agony of Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, strikes the right note about the trials and tribulations of the middle school years. Girls from age 10 to 13 will relate not only to Alice's anxieties, but to her rich inner fantasy life in which she is rich, popular, beautiful, and favored by her teachers. It's nice to have a movie aimed at tweens where the pining is not for a cute boy, but for a friendly teacher.
The studio put together a cast sure to tap into Disney's audience, combining High School Musical's Grabeel with Camp Rock's Stoner. Both are appealing in their roles, and Grabeel gets a chance to sing again, albeit shirtless as part of his band's shtick. Alice's evolving relationship with her tough-as-nails teacher Mrs. Plotkin (Penny Marshall) rings true. Perry acquits himself nicely as the father dipping a toe in the dating waters again, though he doesn't quite seem old enough to have a teenaged son.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Alice's efforts to get assigned to a new classroom. Why is the choice of her teacher so important to her?
Discuss some of the events that Alice considers humiliating -- are they really so bad?
Have you ever had a teacher like Mrs. Plotkin, and was there anything you appreciated about her afterwards?
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