A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
No direct educational content, but plenty of positive messages.
The movie teaches not to judge on first impressions or reputations, and that you can always find common ground. Encourages young people to stay true to themselves yet not to fear change. Friendship and loyalty are also strong themes, as is coming together for the greater good.
Positive Role Models
The main characters, Alex and Todd, are both judgmental at the start, locking horns and refusing to work together, though they gradually accept and help each other. Alex's father is a strong role model throughout, showing kindness and support. But Todd's father puts too much pressure on his son to win and places success above all else -- a trait shown in many of the other adult characters. There are some stereotypes of popular kids being mean and two adults place a bet on the bowling match, but most characters learn from their mistakes over the course of the movie.
Violence & Scariness
There is a slight verbal altercation between two groups. One character pretends they are going to "ruff up" their friend.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some harmless flirting -- arm around shoulder -- but there are no sexual undertones.
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No profanity, but occasional derogatory terms such as "dork," "strange," and "loser."
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Products & Purchases
Mention of fashion and purchasing new uniforms for the bowling team. There is a shopping trip to buy party items for the bowling alley, but they are given away for free.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Alley Cats Strike is a family sports drama -- with many positive messages -- about a boy and his outsider friends who spend their spare time bowling. It is a feel-good Disney TV movie with some fun scenes and catchy music. The overall message is not to judge others and that kindness and community are more important than winning -- Alex (Kyle Schmid) and his friends try to steer clear of any school spirit until they are forced to take part in a big inter-school competition. Some of the characters appear stereotypical at first, and the different groups make fun of each other at school. But the "underdogs" on the bowling team stand up for themselves and don't care what others think. Many authority figures put pressure on the younger characters to win, and the two town mayors place a bet on the game. But there are no "bad guys" in the movie. There is an underlying story about Alex's father struggling financially because the bowling alley is unpopular, but it's also the catalyst for characters to come together to try and help. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
A wholesome, old-fashioned feeling of nostalgia runs through this sweet family movie, from the music to the portrayal of the innocence of youth. Rod Daniel -- director of 80s high-school comedy, Teen Wolf -- lines up the perfect mix of teen drama and town spirit to keep it energetic, with some fun training and dance montages thrown in. The underlying story of finding common ground in different schools is hardly original and is packed with clichés. But the strong identities of the bowling group compared to the jocks and cheerleaders gives it almost a High School Musical feel, with the predictable story rolling along at an enjoyable pace.
Alley Cats Strike builds the pressure well, and creates a strong sense of community within the town, even as it shows the downsides to placing such a strong onus on competition. Most of the young actors are convincing and the eagle-eyed will spot a young Kaley Cuoco from The Big Bang Theory among the bowling buddies. That said, some of the adult acting is a touch hammy at times. Overall, this is inoffensive fun with a solid message that'll strike a chord and have the whole family cheering for the team.
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.