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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Curiosity and friendship are prominent themes. The idea that the scars that are invisible take the longest to heal is explored. Domestic abuse and alcohol use disorder also feature heavily.
Positive Role Models
Young Jody has had a hard life living with her mom, Lynette, who is living with alcohol addiction. In order to escape the abuse from her mom's boyfriend, who is also living with alcohol addiction, Jody leaves home. She is bright, independent and brave. Beth doesn't care what others think of her and sees the good in Jody. Both girls show a curiosity for adventure.
Main characters are strong, adventurous girls. No racial diversity; all characters are White.
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Violence & Scariness
Not looking where she is riding, a teen on a bicycle swerves to avoid a truck and careens down a dirt hill nearly hitting another teen. They both end up unharmed in the water below. A character runs through the woods and encounters a noisy but harmless bear. Two teens go on an ill-advised, dangerous adventure and one is pinned under a rock, fearing they will drown as the tide rises around them. The other travels far to get help and saves the day, but faints as a result of their efforts. Later, they reverse roles when one is taken by an angry drunk adult looking for gold. An adult is found unconscious, who it is later revealed was drunk and knocked unconscious by their abusive partner. A local legend talks of a Scottish teen escaping from a workhouse and making their way to America. In a flashback, this character is seen running through woods with police officers and dogs chasing after them. A teen thinks they may have killed someone who was attacking them, which turns out not to be the case. Someone incapacitates a menacing adult by hitting them on the head with a shovel -- no serious injury is shown. Reference to dead parents.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Two teens whose dads have died wonder if their moms miss "it," referring to sex. One asks if the other has ever seen a man naked. She replies that she's seen people "doing it" in cars at a drive-in movie theater.
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Some hostile language. A character is referred to as a "boozer."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Two adult characters live with alcohol addiction. Their problem and its consequences are discussed rather than shown.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Gold Diggers: The Secret of Bear Mountain is an adventure movie with themes of alcoholism and abuse, and some peril. The movie stars Christina Ricci and Anna Chlumsky as two 13-year-old girls, Beth and Jody, who set off looking for gold long buried inside a Washington state mountain. While the friendship between the two girls is central to the story, they also find themselves in a number of perilous situations. This includes one of them being pinned under falling rocks, while an encounter with a bear also raises the stakes momentarily. Jody's mom, Lynette (Diana Scarwid), is in an abusive relationship. She is knocked unconscious, although the attack itself is not shown. Lynette and her boyfriend, Ray (David Keith), both live with alcohol addiction and are seen drunk. How this impacts Jody's life is shown and it ultimately leads to her running away from home. Despite some of the heavier elements, the story is a familiar fare about intrepid kids who brave perils in search of adventure. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Good performances by Ricci as Beth and Chlumsky as Jody give this otherwise run-of-the-mill story some weight and interest. Even the title, Gold Diggers: The Secret of Bear Mountain, seems off, misleading in its use of "gold diggers," words with connotations of underhanded schemers who befriend others for financial gain. This is at its best the story of teen friendship, of one girl recognizing the good in someone who has been ostracized for her bad luck and quirky behaviors. But too often the script veers into sloppy narrative techniques, and cliched, well-worn plot turns seen in dozens of other movies that came before.
Despite the overly simplistic storytelling, tweens and young teens will probably get something from the action and the likable two leads. Both girls may take a few more risks with their safety than most parents would prefer. But they do set examples for the way that girls with agency can sometimes correct grown-ups and save the day. This could be seen as a mild precursor to such scarier and more violent movies about resourceful girls such as The Hunger Games and Divergent.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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