A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie is about a huge graduation party where most of the kids are drinking illegally, uttering crude language, and getting laid. Somehow it sneaked through with a PG-13 rating, though it's more lewd and bawdy than the rating implies.
What's the story?
As the senior class of Huntington High throws their caps in the air, the gossip network is busy relaying the latest news: Amanda (Jennifer Love Hewitt) and Mike (Peter Facinelli) have broken up. Preston (Ethan Embry) is thrilled by this news, as he has held a flame for Amanda since her first day at their school. Of course she has no idea who he is, but it becomes his ambition to take fate in his hands and make her his one and only. Meanwhile, a huge party is being thrown that night at a classmate's giant home, and all inhibitions are tossed aside. We see Kenny (Seth Green) make his moves on the ladies, as Denise (Lauren Ambrose) tries to avoid contact with most of her classmates while waiting for Preston. Geeky dudes like William (Charlie Korsmo) get wasted and break out singing and dancing like pros. The next day, everyone goes back to their former roles as jocks, geeks, etc.
Is it any good?
There are some attempts at inner conflict, like Preston's pure devotion to Amanda and his attempts to gain her affections, but these monologues are rather flat and uninspiring. And poor Amanda, who is dumped by her bonehead boyfriend and subjected to lewd come-ons as she realizes that her popularity was based solely on her choice of a date. Girls are called "skanky ho's," boys are rejected by said girls, but are never punished for their lasciviousness.
Seth Green plays Kenny, a dork of memorable proportions, who gets locked in a bathroom with the sullen Denise, played by Lauren Ambrose. Though the two actors are given very little of merit to work with, they attempt to display the vulnerability of the age. Yet, having sex on the bathroom floor does not a screen romance make. To be blunt, this high school movie does not make the grade.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what happens at parties. Is this movie's depiction realistic? What about all the drinking? Here are some tips for those who are concerned about the "peer-approved" drinking in movies like this.
Is Amanda having a good time? How must she feel when every guy she meets wants to get into her underwear? What is the lesson here? That she is not safe unless she has a guy to protect her? And even then? How might a movie like this affect a young female viewer?
Two characters end up in jail. How might that affect their lives after the party?
- In theaters: September 30, 1998
- On DVD or streaming: September 30, 2008
- Cast: Ethan Embry, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Seth Green
- Directors: Deborah Kaplan, Harry Elfont
- Studio: Sony Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: teen drinking and sexuality, and for language
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
For kids who love school stories
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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