Campus Confidential

  • Review Date: April 4, 2013
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2005
  • Running Time: 81 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Satire of high school cliques overdoes stereotypes.
  • Review Date: April 4, 2013
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2005
  • Running Time: 81 minutes

Age(i)

2
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Campus Confidential pushes the value of fairness, compassion, ethics, and rising above the pettiness of others, particularly when trying to create a more just world. But it's heavy handed approach comes close to reinforcing the very stereotypes it sets out to challenge.

Positive role models

Violet Jacobs is a well-meaning, ethical person and good friend who wants to make her high school a better place, and has the self awareness to realize when she is in the wrong. She also tries to make right her mistakes by acknowledging them and making amends. Cheerleaders are portrayed as airheaded with pill addictions and eating disorders. A clique of gay students are portrayed as flaming gay queens -- fashion-obsessed and extremely campy, one of whom also nurtures an eating disorder.

Violence

A teen slaps another teen across the face. In a few other scenes, teenagers pull a few mean pranks on each other, such as when two girls dump Jell-O and yogurt over another girl's head, and when a girl slaps a piece of pimento loaf on a girl's forehead.

Sex

There are no instances of sex, but sexual innuendo and jokes show up in a few instances. A joke is made in an English class about an "oral report," meant to reference oral sex. The size of a teenage boy's endowment is referenced as potential fodder for the school tabloid. In an early scene, there are jokes about lap dances and Brazilian wax conventions. Elsewhere, a boy and girl dance closely in one scene; in another brief scene, they almost kiss, but are interrupted. Two girls in mini skirts dance at a party and the camera pans down to their bottom halves and zooms in for a closeup. A teenage boy ogles another boy from the waist down while playing sports. Girls are shown in multiple scenes in skimpy cheerleading uniforms.

Language

Mild insults and stereotypical gags abound. There is no profanity, aside from one brief reference to the school as a "hellhole." 

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Campus Confidential is a satire on teenage life that uses extreme cliches about high school cliques (gay kids, cheerleaders, jocks, nerds, misfits) to make a point about power and corruption. Though the film's message about power's ability to corrupt even the most meek among us is ultimately positive (drawing parallels from George Orwell's Animal Farm, which the students read in class during the movie), it almost reinforces the very stereotypes it seeks to warn against by portraying them so heavy-handedly. 

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What's the story?

New girl Violet Jacobs is in for a rude awakening when she discovers the hierarchy of power among the cliques at her new high school -- not only do the popular kids rule the school, but the teachers, the principal, and even the cafeteria lady kowtow to their demands. With journalism in her blood thanks to mom's (Katey Sagal) job as a reporter, Violet and her new friend, the wallflower Cornelia, decide to start a high school tabloid, The Tattler, to expose the skeletons of the popular kids and begin righting the wrongs of the power structure. At first it seems to work, but along the way, Violet and Cornelia must reconcile whether their sleazy methods mean they are just as guilty as the bullies and jerks they seek to dethrone.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

CAMPUS CONFIDENTIAL has a clever enough premise -- teen high school comedy based on George Orwell's Animal Farm explores the ways in which power can corrupt anyone at any level. And to that end, it teaches some decent messages about how we treat people, and especially the ethics of the takedown in the name of justice. However, to achieve that end, it uses some questionable means, like portraying the clique of gay teens as needlessly campy, or the cheerleaders as super airheaded. One has to see the irony in the fact that Orwell often explored the idea that the end doesn't justify the means, and that this applies as much to the actions of the characters in this film, as it does to the choices the filmmakers made to achieve it.

That said, anyone who went to high school will find the dynamics to be familiar territory, and this film occasionally finds some solid ground when it invokes the best cattiness of Mean Girls or the darker hypocrisy of high school life in Heathers. But viewers may tire of the heavy handed, overly referential feel in this movie, and parents may find too many stereotypes to unpack to get to the nugget of positivity underneath.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the way gay students and other cliques are presented in this movie. How could the film have shown these students and still portrayed life in high school accurately? Parents can reference these tips for battling stereotypes in media portrayals.

  • High school life is depicted as a particularly brutal rite of initiation. Are there cliques in your school? How do they interact? Do some kids seem to have more power or influence than others? Do they use that power for good or bad?

  • Ethics come up often in the film. Is it OK to do something wrong or hurtful if the result is good? Have you ever done something you knew was wrong because you believed the outcome would be positive or worth it? What happened?

Movie details

DVD release date:August 21, 2005
Cast:Christy Romano, Katey Sagal, Keri Lynn Pratt
Director:Melanie Mayron
Studio:ABC Family
Genre:Comedy
Topics:Friendship, High school, Misfits and underdogs
Run time:81 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of Campus Confidential was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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