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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this feel-good movie based on the young adult novel by Robin Palmer is rich in social themes about friendship, respect, self-confidence, and denouncing stereotypes. The family-friendly content ensures that Geek Charming's positive messages will reach kids and tweens alike. The main character initially treats many of her peers with contempt and calls them "nerds" and "geeks," but kids will recognize how her attitude changes over the course of the story. The teens are surrounded by strong adult role models who encourage them to behave responsibly and hold themselves to high standards. There's an emotional storyline surrounding a parent's death that occurred before the movie's start.
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What's the story?
Dylan Schoenfeld (Modern Family's Sarah Hyland) is proud of her status as Woodlands Academy's most popular girl, and with the school's Blossom Queen competition on the horizon, she's determined to take home the coveted crown and seal her place of honor. But when an unexpected encounter with self-proclaimed film geek Josh Rosen (Matt Prokop) leads the two to team up for his latest film project, Dylan crosses social boundaries and invites him into the life of the "populars" for the purpose of his documentary. Josh intended his film to be a hard-hitting expose about the high school popularity system, but the more time he spends with Dylan, the more he sees her true nature hidden beneath the cool-girl façade. Dylan, too, finds herself drawn to Josh, despite the heat she takes from her inner circle about fraternizing with a "social outcast." As both the competition and the film deadline draw near, Josh and Dylan wrestle with their emotions and re-evaluate both their relationship with each other and their definition of popularity.
Is it any good?
GEEK CHARMING is very sweet, a little sappy, and superbly crafted. It tackles the notion of what it means to be atop the social hierarchy and how the pressure to conform to peer pressure complicates teens' relationships. There's a fair amount of exaggeration when it comes to Dylan's personality (at least, you have to hope that her pretentiousness isn't entirely realistic), but her emotional evolution is what will stand out for viewers. Even so, some of the characters' tribulations over trying to fit in or feeling pressure to conform may ring true with your kids, so it's a great opportunity to talk about these issues with them.
Perhaps the best message to emerge from this movie, which is based on a book by Robin Palmer, exists in the balance of Dylan and Josh's culminating relationship. Both characters experience personal growth and learn important lessons from each other, which allows them to build trust based on mutual respect. Their unlikely partnership inspires others to think harder before following preconceptions, and it can have the same effect on your kids. It's a great reminder for every viewer that things -- and people -- aren't always what they seem, and that seeing past what's on the outside can reveal a surprising inner spirit.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about popularity. How is popularity determined, and how is it portrayed in the media? Are there different levels of popularity among your peers? Does the issue of bullying affect you at school or among friends? Is it plausible to stand up to the social structure?
Kids: Why is it important to show respect to other people? Does everyone deserve your respect? How can your preconceptions of someone cloud your judgment?
What other shows or movies have you seen that are based on books? What can TV shows offer that books can't? Has there ever been an instance in which you've preferred a book to its onscreen counterpart?
- On DVD or streaming: February 7, 2012
- Cast: Matt Prokop, Sarah Hyland
- Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, High School
- Character Strengths: Communication, Integrity
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
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