A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Harriet’s brand of spying often borders on voyeurism and crime, since she breaks into hotel rooms, steals, and uses electronic sound equipment and her camera phone to dig up dirt on a teen heartthrob she’s trying to defame. Though content like this is typically worrisome for kids and tweens, within the context of the movie it illustrates important points about privacy and the dangers of using the Internet (or other media) to bully or embarrass someone (since Harriet eventually learns from her mistakes). Similarly, Harriet’s troubles with peer pressure, family, and friends speak to the importance of communication and respect -- themes that young viewers will be hard-pressed to miss.
What's the story?
Harriet “The Spy” Welsch (Jennifer Stone) has big plans for this year’s class blog, but to get the coveted position, she has to beat out popularity queen Marion Hawthorne (Vanessa Morgan) in a month-long blog contest. Hoping to entice readers, she sets out to dig up dirt on Skander Hill (Wesley Morgan), the hunky, but self-absorbed star of her father’s new movie. As pressure mounts for her to deliver the goods, Harriet begins to bend her own moral rules as a writer, and things soon start to spiral out of control, costing her her two best friends and threatening her father’s job. Eventually Harriet must reassess her responsibilities as a writer -- and her own personal value system.
Is it any good?
HARRIET THE SPY: BLOG WARS gives Louise Fitzhugh’s long-loved literary character a fresh look for modern kids and tweens, and Harriet’s ensuing adventures won’t disappoint her new viewers. Even better than its sheer entertainment value is the movie’s masterful method of packing lots of positive messages about friendship, peer pressure, communication, family bonds, and privacy issues into the family-friendly plot.
While there’s no iffy content that necessarily rules it out for youngsters, the movie’s exploration of voyeurism and Internet bullying could easily be taken out of context since most of the movie shows Harriet riding a wave of popularity from her exploitation of Skander Hill. It’s only at the very end that her dishonest actions catch up with her and force her to reassess her actions, so it’s important to make sure kids and tweens grasp the dangers of this type of behavior.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can discuss privacy issues. Why is privacy such a big deal? Do celebrities have less rights to privacy than average citizens because of their star status? Why or why not? Where can you expect privacy? In what situations do you expect to forfeit privacy?
What does “cyberbullying” mean? How has technology changed the nature of how we relate to each other? Do tools like blogs or social networking websites make it easier to pick on people? If so, how? How does freedom of speech interfere with people’s right to privacy?
Tweens: What do you want to be when you grow up? What special skills or knowledge will you need to do the job? How will you hone those skills? In what ways are you practicing them now?
For kids who love girl-oriented stories
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