A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie is meant to entertain, but it imparts some very valuable lessons in self-confidence and perseverance. Kids also learn a bit about the sport of snowboarding.
The story's strong positive messages practically leap off the screen and are reinforced by dialogue that spells them out: "Appearances aren't everything. What's under the surface is more important," "It's about whether you believe in yourself," and "Nothing's impossible," to name a few. As Kayla's values evolve, viewers see the rewards of working hard and learning from mistakes, as well as the satisfaction of a job well done. Competitors trade insults targeting each other's skills and fashion sense, and some allow their hopes for victory to lead them to some bad choices that hurt others. Kayla learns the difference between symbiotic relationships and true friendship, and she's a better person for it. Inexplicably, one teen communicates entirely through texting on her phone.
Positive Role Models
Opposing parenting styles are represented in Nick's dad, who manipulates his son's affection for his own gain, and Kayla's parents, who don't always recognize her potential but ultimately encourage her to fight for her dreams. Even better, they force her to take personal responsibility for her mistakes, which winds up being a turning point for her. Will's mom is unconditionally supportive of him, even when he resists her attention. But there's no better model than Kayla, who faces a tough dose of reality with grace and turns it to her advantage through hard work and a can-do attitude. Other teens at times are selfish and cruel.
Violence & Scariness
There are lots of crashes and falls alongside the high-flying snowboarding stunts in the movie, but only one ends in an injury, which isn't shown but is said to have ended the boarder's career. What's more affecting are the perilous moments when a main character's fate hangs in the balance –- once during a sledding accident and once after an avalanche.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A developing romance is innocent and sweet and results in one kiss.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Cloud 9 is an engaging Disney movie that does an excellent job of illustrating the importance of believing in yourself and working hard to meet your goals. The main character starts off as shallow and self-centered but turns adversity into an opportunity to show the world (and herself) that she's made of stronger stuff, and, in so doing, she inspires others around her to make better decisions about their own actions. Also notable is her relationship with her parents, who make her face the repercussions of her own mistakes rather than taking an easier way out, which contributes to her improving attitude. Expect to hear some insults swapped among competitors, a few of which target the victim's appearance, but there's a fair portion of just desserts for those who deserve it in the end. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
CLOUD 9 tells a great underdog story, pitting a ragtag team of overlooked hopefuls against a pompous group of favorites with questionable ethics. With each new hurdle Kayla and her friends have to overcome, you want even more to root for their success, both when they're on the half-pipe and, in the case of Will and Kayla, in each other's company. This being a clean-cut Disney movie, it's not hard to guess where the plot is headed, but the story is so neatly designed that doesn't take any of the enjoyment out of it. Factor in some pretty sweet high-flying stunts, and this is sure to be an all-around hit with kids.
Adults will take a particular liking to how Kayla's predicament plays out, starting with her parents' insistence that she (gasp!) take hands-on responsibility for her poor judgment and following with how the experience changes her priorities. Strong parental role models aren't always part of tween-targeted movies, but they are in this case; even if kids don't pick up on the finer details of this plot point, it still ties in nicely with the overall themes about good character and high personal standards.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.