Change of Plans

Movie review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Change of Plans Movie Poster Image
Inspiring movie about family ties involves loss of a parent.
  • NR
  • 2011
  • 100 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

This story’s themes include responsibility, respect, and the strong bonds that exist in non-traditional family structures. It deals honestly with emotional issues like the death of a parent, the frustrations of coping with unforeseen challenges, and the social uncertainties of being a teen -- but the overall message is one of hope, empowerment, and the healing power of love. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jason and Sally are a loving couple who turn to each other when they need support. They don’t shirk responsibility and are open to changing their priorities when life throws them a curveball.


A teen’s shirt is bloody after a scuffle with a rival classmate, but the fight isn’t shown.


Some flirting among teens, and an adult couple cuddles and kisses a lot, but all the content speaks to happy, healthy relationships.


Sponsor companies’ products (Great Value cereal, Orville Redenbacher popcorn, etc.) are visible at times, but the overall effect is mostly subliminal. One exception to the subtlety is a cameo by Walmart-sponsored NASCAR driver Jeff Burton, whose clothes are a walking billboard for the store, as well as P&G brands like Prilosec. Brooke White’s music makes up much of the movie’s soundtrack, which is available exclusively at Walmart.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the whole family will find a lot to like in this touching TV movie's messages about love, respect, and family bonds. The movie centers on a happily married couple whose relationship is strengthened by overcoming challenges. Because three of the kids are of different ethnicities, the story incorporates some cultural diversity, including foreign languages and references to ethnic music and traditional games. The emotional subplot surrounding the kids’ parents’ deaths might be too much for sensitive kids, so use your judgment on your kids’ readiness for such a heavy topic. Astute viewers will notice the sponsoring companies’ (Walmart and Procter & Gamble) strategically placed products in select scenes, but it feels like a fairly minor quibble in what's otherwise wholesome family entertainment.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byLeProf_no1 November 17, 2011


This movie, as shown in its DVD cover, is not the child-appropriate movie reviewed here. SAME TITLE, VERY DIFFERENT FILM. The movie cover shown is a French la... Continue reading
Parent Written byRobInKC May 15, 2011
Really sweet show about a married couple who get their priorities in order amidst a life change forced on them. Also engaging and some entertaining music. My... Continue reading

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What's the story?

Sally (Brooke White) and Jason Danville (Joe Flanigan) are living the dream -- happily married with successful careers and no plans for change. But change is just what’s in store for them when Sally’s best friend dies unexpectedly while working in the Peace Corps and leaves her four children -- three of whom are adopted -- in the Danvilles’ care. Certain they’re not parent material, Sally and Jason agree to take in the kids temporarily until the social worker, Dorothy (Phylicia Rashad), can place them elsewhere. But the longer this unlikely group is together, the more it begins to feel like a family.

Is it any good?

No surprise, this family-centered movie -- the fourth in the Family Movie Night collection sponsored by Walmart and Procter & Gamble -- is perfectly suited for families to enjoy together. With the exception of young kids who might be upset by the emotional fallout from the movie kids' parents’ death, CHANGE OF PLANS has a lot to offer parents and kids alike, and its feel-good messages about the ties that bind even non-traditional families will inspire viewers. At a time when more and more families are blended in some way, this story offers a touching glimpse at how love grows even in unlikely relationships.

Obvious interpersonal themes aside, the story touches on other issues that will resonate with parents and kids, including teens’ struggles to fit in, coping with change, and establishing trust, so there’s plenty to talk about when the TV’s turned off. This movie also offers viewers a good opportunity to discuss advertising in the media, since it’s filled with product placement from sponsors Walmart and Procter & Gamble and even uses a cameo from Walmart-sponsored NASCAR driver Jeff Burton to parade brand names before viewers’ eyes.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about relationships. Do you think this movie presents realistic family relationships? What aspects do you find most or least believable? How do the characters evolve throughout the story? 

  • Tweens: How does your family stay in touch in this media-dominated age? Does technology like cell phones and social media help or hurt those efforts?

  • What are some of your family’s common struggles? How do you make sure that your family is a source of strength and happiness for everyone? What activities do you enjoy together? How do they reflect your family’s values?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love strong family stories

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