A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this made-for-TV movie -- which features High School Musical co-star Corbin Bleu -- wraps up the tween-targeted series Flight 29 Down. It would be helpful to newcomers to see previous episodes before watching this movie, since little of the interpersonal relations and surprise revelations will mean much without enough background. Flashback clips show brief glimpses of the plane crash that stranded the characters on a tropical island, but it's nothing graphic enough to affect tween viewers. There's not much iffy content (no language, violence, or even sexual references), but there aren't really any strong positive messages, either. Mostly, watching these castaways is just a vacation for the brain.
What's the story?
FLIGHT 29 DOWN: THE HOTEL TANGO wraps up the tale of the stranded passengers whose aircraft crashed onto a deserted island in the South Pacific at the start of the series Flight 29 Down. The movie picks up with Melissa (Kristy Wu), Abby (Tani Lynn Fujimoto), Jackson (Johnny Pacar), and Eric (Jeremy Kissner) packing their bags and heading off in search of help. They are determined to find a more effective coexistence than the problem-ridden democracy established by self-appointed leader Daley (Hallee Hirsh). Feeling safer staying at camp, Nathan (Corbin Bleu), Taylor (Lauren Storm), and young Lex (Allen Alvarado) hang back with Daley. Both groups struggle to survive: The team at camp brainstorms ways to be seen by far-off ships, while the explorers happen upon a deserted building that could hold some answers about their two missing peers and the plane's pilot. The Hotel Tango answers questions raised during the show's two seasons and reveals the ultimate fate of the entire cast.
Is it any good?
There's little reality to the supposed dangers the characters face. In fact, most of their woes relate to their personality clashes rather than to the severity of their situation and, in typical Hollywood fashion, they all manage to look clean and groomed at the start of the day, despite having no makeup or hair gel in sight. But it's not likely that tweens will gripe about these exaggerations, and at least parents can rest easy knowing that, as far as content goes, there's virtually nothing of concern here.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how this movie (and the series it's part of) compares with real life. How believable is the characters' situation? Are any aspects of the story more realistic than others (i.e., the interpersonal struggles among the group)? How does experiencing a stressful situation affect a group of friends' dynamics? Does it make them stronger or tear them apart? Parents and tweens can also discuss and practice outdoor survival skills and what to do in an emergency situation.
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