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Parents' Guide to


By Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Strong anti-bullying tone outshines movie's low-budget feel.

Movie PG 2013 88 minutes
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What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

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age 8+

Based on 1 parent review

age 8+

Unrealistic perception of Bullying and overall flat story telling.

Something small to point out: just because a movie that has a stamped approval from a children's network for anti-bullying doesn't make it automatic gold and insightful. I though that might be the case until I saw the film. Contest goes through the life of a teenager with no friends entering a cooking competition with the aid of a school bully, who begin doing so to make up for his suspension but became friends as the movie progressed. At least that's the first part of this movie and what Cartoon Network tres to sell to the viewers through their commercials. The story moves on to a teenage girl crime suspense non-sense that distracts and convolutes the actual plot and message and after a while instead of enjoy the movie and understanding the message I'm stuck with the massive plotholes and inconsistently relating to life. Technically, the movie looked like it was produced by a college/uni student. It's good for college standards but bad for a Children's network. The vocals were off and I periodically had to raise and lower the volume of my TV. The lighting I was iffy about since the morning to early afternoon scenes were okay but any scene that involved a minimal amount of darkness was blurry and hard to focus. The actors were really bad, I'm sorry to say. All of them (probably the Grandmother was an exception) were flat in deliver and further established the 1-dimensional characters they played. A lot of the actors tend to look a lot like each other and I wasn't surprised that the team brought together consist of all blond males and at first glance they could have played cousins/brothers. Possibly the point of the character casting but it's just bad. There were odd transitions between scenes and one scene that bothered me, the one where the main character texting his grandmother, the scene lacked any emotion and I was sure of he was adjusting his position or thinking about falling off the platform. The text were hard enough to read. Plot wise, horrible. The suspense dynamic was unneeded and brought the bullying aspect down. Overall, the movie doesn't properly carry the anti-bullying message due to clustering it with other plots that don't relate. It would have been better if the movie solely focused on the victim and bully instead of the rest of the characters. It would have helped to anchor the perspective of their roles and the children that watch that fall within one or the other category. No deceit between brothers and slips and falls due to olive oil but something that solely focuses on the message and delivers it as realistically as possible through the stir.

This title has:

Great messages

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (1 ):

Contest is a low-budget movie that lacks a certain pizzazz teens may have come to expect from the films they watch. Its plot is mostly predictable –- that is, until it veers off into extreme action like one brother running low-tech surveillance on another and some laxative-induced cooking sabotage –- and the characters are cookie-cutter versions of every social niche of the most stereotypical high school you can imagine. But, while that might threaten your teen's attention to the story, it does nothing to mar the messages it's trying to convey about tolerant relationships.

Perhaps the movie's best quality is the care it gives to showing the evolution of both of the main characters' attitudes toward each other. So often in stories of redemption, it's tempting to focus on only the offender's emotional journey, but that's not the case with Contest. Even though Matt's attitude faces the most drastic change, Tommy also finds that he needs to adjust his perspective about his peers as well as about himself. The bottom line? This movie's not likely to win any entertainment awards, but pair it with a discussion with your teens about this timely issue, and it can be another effective weapon in your anti-bullying arsenal.

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