Parents' Guide to

Candy Jar

By Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Drama about debate team rivals has some cursing.

Movie NR 2018 92 minutes
Candy Jar Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 5 parent reviews

age 11+

Predictable but good for stressed students

Found this while searching up, 'feel-good movies', and it delivered. The movie is worth its salt in my opinion mainly because of the themes and value for stressed students, and plus it's a high school movie that is still extremely appropriate (two swear words for anyone wondering). As for the plot... it's so beyond predictable I couldn't even predict just how predictable it was going to be. It was a little overkill that way, but hey I feel like it's a super comfortable movie to listen to in the background while working on other stuff.
age 11+

Sweet predictable plot, with a good message.

My 13 year-old daughter was very insistent that we watch this movie together (she'd already watched it by itself). The plot itself is super-conventional. Teen rivals are forced together, and eventually romance blossoms. But there are some great things along the way to talk about: - Parents with flaws. Lona's mom is rude to Bennet's mom in front of a room at a debate championship. Bennet's mom takes the bait and eventually claps back, leading to embarrassment and consequences for the kids. But... they both grow and eventually reconcile. Their kids instantly see their bad behaviour for what it is and call them on it. But it's a good cue to talk about how adults mess up sometimes. - Both Lona and Bennett experience failure. And, because both of them are overachievers with protective parents, it's kinda the first time for both of them, and they need some prodding to handle it well. Bennett's mom is ready to step-in and take over for him. It's a good place to talk about what your kid wants from you when they experience a set back, and what you as a parent are willing to do. - Being an overachiever: While this movie was about high-level debaters, the same pressure to succeed and pushy parenting exists in competitive sports and a lot of other teen competitive activities. What are the good and bad things about competition and elite level activities like this? Two other points: I just didn't get what Helen Hunt's character's death added to the lot, other than that the kids needed to find other adults to guide them to make good decisions? As a Canadian, the competition for ivy league universities doesn't really resonate. Yes some schools have better reputations than others, but it's not like the difference between Harvard and "community college." in the US. I had to explain to my kids why the stakes were so high, given that these two awesome nerds were clearly going to get into a top-tier school no matter what. (There are like two swears, and one kiss. It's VERY tame for a teen movie)

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (5 ):
Kids say (8 ):

Candy Jar is a solid movie about smart kids, and it does an especially great job reminding us all that life is short and that it's important to have fun. Full candy dishes in guidance counselor Kathy's office invite students to taste something sweet while doing the hard work of thinking about the future. This is the lesson that Lona and Bennett are invited to absorb from the wise and witty counselor, and that the audience is encouraged to embrace as well. Gayle is convincing as a girl too serious for her own good, and Latimore is charming as Bennett, a guy equally driven but open to the idea that loosening up could make life a little nicer. When death in their community shocks them, they seem ready to see how much more important friends and relationships are than "success" and "achievement."

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