Cadet Kelly Movie Poster Image

Cadet Kelly



Wholesome Hilary Duff movie has simple, positive messages.
  • Review Date: April 5, 2013
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2005
  • Running Time: 101 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Lots of positive values work in this film. It deals with adjusting to new situations in a productive and comforting way, with a teen learning to accommodate both parents in a friendly divorce, making wise choices, and respecting others who initially may appear to be very different from ourselves. Teamwork is heavily promoted, as is creativity, and compromise.

Positive role models

Leading character is a bright, well-liked free spirit. Viewers have an opportunity to identify with her as she learns to adjust to major life changes in positive, empathetic, creative ways. Divorced parents are portrayed as ideal: conscientious, loving, aware of their child's needs, and decent to one another. Lots of ethnic diversity. The one villain in the piece, while one-dimensional, rigid, and cruel early on, learns the error of her ways.

Violence & scariness

One suspenseful scene in which a principal character is stranded on a cliff. Several comic falls (in mud, off of a wall, a fish bowl overturns momentarily threatening the fish). A platoon leader pulls one of her "soldiers" by the ear.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable

Heroine is constantly called a "maggot" by her team leader.


A prominent display of Isis Cosmeceuticals

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Cadet Kelly is a wholesome TV movie originally made for The Disney Channel. It's heavy on messages, cute teens, easy resolutions, and stars girl favorite Hilary Duff as a budding diva. The film's core subjects -- making necessary life adjustments, parenting, divorce, and teen rivalry -- are all dealt with gently and with humor. While it encourages the heroine to find her own path and develop her own strengths, it also advocates teamwork and compromise. A few pratfalls (mostly in a comic depiction of military training), a suspenseful moment in which the heroine must risk her safety for another, and some initial mean behavior by a team leader (Cadet Kelly is continually called "maggot") provide the action and physical conflict. Generally, middle grade girls through young teens will probably enjoy this predictable, safe family fare.

What's the story?

Close with both loving parents after their amicable divorce, adorable and popular Kelly Collins (a young Hilary Duff fresh from Lizzie McGuire success) is delighted that her mom has found a new love. Delighted, that is, until she discovers that her mom's new marriage means they're moving from New York City and she'll have to attend George Washington Military Academy where her stepdad is the new commander! In typical fish-out-of-water form, free-spirit Kelly finds out what it means to be a disciplined team player, a true friend, and a caring step-daughter. Her unexpected adventures at the new high school find her in a heated rivalry with her platoon leader (Christy Romano), a mild flirtation with a cute classmate (Shane Ashmore), and with a chance to "strut her stuff" as a creative force behind the school's competitive drill team. And finally, what really launches Kelly toward maturity is a life-and-death crisis that forces her to use her newly-acquired skills as a junior member of the armed forces.

Is it any good?


Strictly run-of-the-mill story and production here -- always predictable, with so-so acting, one-dimensional characters, and very little relationship to the reality of military school. But for kids, especially girls desperate for female heroes and role models, it's bound to be enjoyable and provide some worthy messages. Who wouldn't want to identify with the sparkly teen whom easily wins over friends and vanquishes her enemies with a smile?

The movie's gentle, positive portrayal of a divorce that works well for everyone involved (skin-deep though it may be) is a pleasant change from the usual. Generally, it's a nice movie for girls to share: wholesome, fun, with lots of opportunity to root for an engaging teen.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about popular themes in kids movies. Moving and a change of schools is a favorite theme of movies for kids and teens. What did Kelly learn about herself from the move to military school? How can change be a positive force in a person's life? Think of a situation in which you had to make a change. What did you learn from it?

  • Why did Kelly's parents' divorce work when so many others don't? What qualities did the filmmakers portray as necessary for maintaining a good relationship for all of the parties involved? What did Kelly do to help them?

  • Captain Stone is the movie's villain. Why do you think she was so threatened by Kelly?

Movie details

DVD release date:June 28, 2005
Cast:Christy Carlson Romano, Gary Cole, Hilary Duff
Director:Larry Shaw
Studio:Disney Channel Original Movies
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Friendship, High school
Run time:101 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

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What parents and kids say

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Parent Written byMargert-jerry August 16, 2014
I found "Kelly" to be very unpleasant, she continuously talked back and was very rude to her superiors, and complained about the military school she was attending wasn't unique and individual. She broke dress code and talked back quite often. I found it disturbing,that she had no understanding of why rules could possibly ever be imported. She acted in such a way, I can only assume she was never disciplined a day in her life, and in the end, I don't believe she ever learned. I believe young children may enjoy this movie but I, for one did not.
Kid, 10 years old July 7, 2013

good for kids

the movie is very good
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 13 years old Written byTRIPLELLL May 31, 2016
For a Disney original movie, there are some genuine life lessons. This movie is good for all ages, but probably best for 6+ in just understanding what's happening and not getting bored. In my opinion, the parent review got it all wrong. Kelly had definitely changed for the better by the end of the movie and believed in respect and teamwork--anyone should see that.If you are concerned about them developing her back talk, age 10 is NOT the right age for this. Young kids may be impressionable, but 10 is the development of natural preteen back talk. Besides the point, back talk shouldn't be and issue if you have done your job as a parent. Kelly does back talk for legitimate reasons I.e. Having her blanket torn to shreds, but by the end the child should see her sass was not the ultimate point of the movie, but rather one of the problems.
What other families should know
Great messages


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