What parents need to know
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.
What's the story?
Kayla Morgan (Dove Cameron) is used to being in spotlight. After all, she's the long-running top female snowboarder in Summit Valley and the privileged daughter of the ski resort's owner, not to mention the girlfriend of the face of Swift Snowboards, Nick Swift (Mike C. Manning). But when a lapse in judgment gets Kayla in hot water, she's dropped from the Swift boarding team shortly before the much-anticipated Fire and Ice competition, dumped by Nick, and forced to work in the resort's dog kennel to pay for the damage she caused. Even worse, she gets an unexpected dose of reality about the boarding skills she always took for granted. Feeling like she's lost her identity, she turns for advice to her new coworker, Will Cloud (Luke Benward), who was the area's best boarder until a fall ended his career. Will agrees to train her for Fire and Ice, even teaching her the ultimate trick that nearly cost him his life, and in the process she begins to reconsider his own chances at the elusive championship.
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.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about what it's like to be left out. Kids: Have you ever felt that way? Does excluding others make some people feel more special? Why is this the case?
Kayla's experience is a lesson in the true meaning of friendship. What relationships do you value most? How do you know they're the ones you can count on? What efforts can you make to ensure that your friends can count on you?
Do you think Kayla's punishment (working in a dog kennel) fit her crime? What did the experience teach her? How did it compare to repercussions you've faced for making mistakes? What are the reasons behind the rules your parents have for you?