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 touches on themes like teamwork, perseverance, and self-perception and examines what it means to be a winner. There's some poor sportsmanship and bullying (tweens tease a classmate, putting him down and throwing things at him), but it could prompt family discussions about respecting others and being tolerant of differences. Expect some sexual inferences (a woman's flirtatious remarks about a man's chiseled physique, a tween couple's one brief kiss, one teacher's mild fantasies about another) and name-calling. One of the co-stars, Amy Sedaris, has a reputation as an edgy comedienne.
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What's the story?
Dave Stewie (Christopher Meloni) is a former world-class gymnast who turned to teaching physical education after his gold-medal dreams were crushed by a collision with a vaulting horse two decades ago. Now living in obscurity at Hamm Lake Middle School, gym teacher extraordinaire Stewie gets a chance to redeem himself (and nab a long-coveted spot on a Wheaties box) in the national Gym Teacher of the Year competition. The biggest hurdle between him and the prize turns out to be Roland Waffle (Nathan Kress). the klutzy new student who's determined to toss aside his own insecurities -- and his omnipresent safety helmet -- and prove himself among Stewie's more seasoned team members.
Is it any good?
GYM TEACHER: THE MOVIE is a thoroughly entertaining comedy. Meloni steps outside his usual (and acclaimed) dramatic roles to steal the show with his portrayal of the stereotypical whistle-blowing, knee socks-wearing, super-motivated gym coach. The movie's take on the entire school dynamic -- from batty Principal Hoffman (Amy Sedaris), whose crush on Stewie is neither secretive nor mutual, to Stewie's bitter rivalry with the irksome cross-town coach played by David Alan Grier -- is equally funny. Adults in particular will revel in Stewie's struggles to reconcile the disappointments of his past and seek personal redemption in a next-best-thing competition.
Comedy aside, Gym Teacher also has some surprisingly poignant moments and touches on issues like accepting differences, respecting others, building self-esteem, and fulfilling goals -- all of which can prompt worthwhile family discussions.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about bullying and self-image. Kids: Have you ever been the victim of a bully? How does it affect your self esteem? What can people do to improve their self esteem? What are your own personal strengths? Families can also discuss setting and meeting goals. What goals do you have for your life? Why are they important to you? How do your past experiences affect your determination to meet goals? What steps have you taken (or will you take) to ensure that you're successful? How will you measure your success?
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