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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Jedi Junior High is a documentary that chronicles a junior high production of a musical version of The Empire Strikes Back. Although it gives a real-life glimpse into the hormone-filled world of tweens, it's surprisingly drama-free, with only a few references to some bullying one kid experiences and some talk about adolescent crushes, hormones, and kids figuring out their identities. Viewers who aren't fans of the Star Wars franchise may be a bit bored or may be put off by the numerous references to Star Wars characters, merchandise, and the various films. But parents and theater fans alike will like the positive messages about developing confidence and a strong work ethic through performing.
What's the story?
In JEDI JUNIOR HIGH, a theater company is putting on a junior high production of a musical parody of The Empire Strikes Back and is searching for a cast among the local tweens. Ranging in age from 8 to 13, kids with varying levels of acting and musical talent vie to be Princess Leia, Han Solo, and other iconic characters. The camera follows the kids through auditions, practicing at home, dress rehearsal, and the final production. Through the highs and lows of producing a complicated theater show, the kids make new friends, develop confidence, and learn the value of hard work and determination.
Is it any good?
Although it's a sweet, funny, and often poignant look at the ups and downs of adolescence, this sometimes-boring documentary plays it a little too safe. Although it's refreshing not to see any manufactured drama, especially when dealing with young kids, Jedi Junior High gets somewhat bogged down in the technical details of putting on a show, along with some over-the-top enthusiasm about anything Star Wars. Parallels are drawn between Luke Skywalker's emotional journey and the trials and tribulations of adolescence, and we watch one shy, insecure kid blossom in his starring role, but much of the film is just watching kids being kids.
Parents (especially fans of Star Wars) will love watching kids gain confidence and learn the satisfaction of a job well done. But some kids may get bored with the behind-the-scenes details and wish for more action.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the value of theater. Do you think theater and the arts are an important part of education? After watching Jedi Junior High, do you think schools teach theater? Why, or why not?
How does the plot of The Empire Strikes Back mirror the realities of junior high? Is what any of the characters experiences in the Star Wars film similar to what the kids in the musical experience?
Do you think the Star Wars series would make a good musical? Why, or why not?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.