A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Expelled is a high-school comedy starring Vine/YouTube sensation Cameron Dallas and a handful of other social media celebrities. It has strong echoes of Ferris Bueller's Day Off, but it's not just about how a popular high schooler cleverly manages to skip a day of school; instead, Felix (Dallas) is out to keep his parents from finding out he's been permanently kicked out school. The messages, until the very end, are all about how to get one over on your parents using technology, but ultimately there are consequences for Felix, and he realizes that he needs to go back to school and listen to his parents about his future. Expect any Vine or YouTube-obsessed tween or teen (especially those smitten with Dallas) to want to see this comedy.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
After committing a series of punishable offenses, Felix (Vine/YouTube star Cameron Dallas) has been EXPELLED from Eastwood High. Instead of being upset, Felix takes it in stride (he's always wanted out of high school, anyway), but he needs to make sure his parents don't find out, because they've already sent his even-more-infamous older brother to reform school in Montana. To make sure his parents don't catch wind of his expulsion, Felix enlists tech-savvy friends and frenemies to help him fake a report card, intercept phone calls, and spy on the principal for leverage. But keeping up the ruse starts to become a full-time job for Felix, who eventually starts second-guessing his choices.
Is it any good?
Plot-wise, this is an obvious homage/theft of Ferris Bueller's Day Off: a cooler-than-thou teen uses technology to keep his parents from knowing he's ditching (or in this case expelled from) school. Just like in John Hughes' classic, someone pretends to be Felix's father, he has a stand-in mannequin in his bed, and he fools a principal intent on his demise. Chances are if your kid is an avid Dallas fan (and those chances are good -- the 20-year-old has millions of followers on Vine and YouTube), Expelled has been downloaded and streamed on a device in your home. If not, then there's really no reason to pay for it other than to see the handsome but not exactly talented young star strut around with a perpetual smirk.
Unlike Ferris' memorable young actors (Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck, Jennifer Grey, Mia Sara), none of these young social media celebs (the movie also features Lia Marie Johnson, Marcus Johns, and Andrea Russett) has enough screen presence to carry a 90-minute movie (although apparently they DO have enough talent for bite-sized digital videos, some of which last just a few seconds). To make matters worse, the message isn't even an adolescent cry of "carpe diem!," but rather a troubling "isn't it easy to deceive and blackmail adults with our superior powers of technology?"
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the popularity of YouTube/Vine personalities like Cameron Dallas. Why are they famous? Do you think they're good actors, or do you prefer their shorter comedy videos?
Talk to kids about the consequences of being expelled and lying to parents, teachers, and other authorities. Kids: Do you understand the difference between Felix's antics and what would really happen if you did what he did?
What role does technology play in the movie? Do any of the characters use tech responsibly? Is the way it's used here a realistic depiction?
For those who've seen Ferris Bueller's Day Off, how do the two movies compare? What scenes or moments were similar despite the difference in decades? Do you think this film will have as much of a cultural impact?
- In theaters: December 12, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: December 16, 2014
- Cast: Cameron Dallas, Marcus Johns, Lia Marie Johnson
- Director: Alex Goyette
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 97 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some crude language
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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