Parents' Guide to

An American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 6+

Sweet, inspiring tale about a girl reaching for her dreams.

Movie NR 2012 94 minutes
An American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 4+

Based on 8 parent reviews

age 4+
This was a great movie! My 4, 6, and 8 year old loved it. The 8 and 6 year old were boys. Great example of how to get through the ups and downs in life as a young girl.

This title has:

Great messages
age 5+

The movie is not racist.

Another reviewer said the movie was racist because the main character does a reading comprehension exercise in which she reads that the climate in India is not healthy for children. The reviewer was upset that there was no examination of that belief or discussion on it. I would like to point out that the main character is reading from a classic in literature called The Secret Garden which is from 1911. The characters discussing why or why not it would be racist would completely take away from the purpose of the scene in the movie, because the scene is simply about the girl stumbling over words and not comprehending them. Had they stopped to discuss the “racism” in the book, they would have lost the focus of the scene being about her inability to read. Not everything is a racial matter.

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (8):
Kids say (17):

AN AMERICAN GIRL: MCKENNA SHOOTS FOR THE STARS is a surprisingly sweet and empowering tale, particularly for young girls (regardless of whether they have an American Girl doll or not). Although McKenna's story provides many inspiring lessons, the movie isn't overly preachy or maudlin. There's a believable dramatic tension in all of McKenna's relationships, especially her growing rapport with Josie and her emotional disagreements with her BFF Toulane. Pettyjohn is a talented and expressive young actress, as is Josie, who's played with the same impressive nuance that Dorsey employed as Brad Pitt's daughter in Moneyball.

The only quibble with the movie's narrative is that it introduces Toulane's hyper-competitive and critical mother (Paula Rivera) but doesn't expand on that subplot until a couple of lines at the end of the film. Otherwise, this is exactly the kind of heartwarming movie that makes for a perfect sleepover or play date pick for tween girls. The movie's themes empower kids to see beyond the superficial and to recognize that there's nothing wrong with needing a little bit of help -- whether from your family, friends, or a tutor -- to better yourself and "shoot for the stars."

Movie Details

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