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Jessica Darling's It List
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Jessica Darling's It List is a movie based on the book for older kids and tweens by Megan McCafferty. The book was marketed as a "prequel" to the five earlier Jessica Darling books (such as Second Helpings), which took its young heroine through high school and college and was directed at teens. In this story, Jessica is on the brink of junior high school, confronted with finding her values and her place in that emotionally charged, preadolescent community. The "It List" is provided by the heroine's beautiful and outwardly successful older sister and is aimed at providing Jessica with the tools for achieving the three "P's" -- popularity, prettiness, and perfection. Filled with familiar stereotypes (the snobby girls, the "future nots," and the "not-nots") the film is family-friendly and ethnically diverse and delivers a positive message.
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What's the story?
Jessica Darling (Chloe East) is anxiously awaiting the first day of junior high school in JESSICA DARLING'S IT LIST. She only has one friend going to the same school, but luckily it's her best friend, Bridget (Emma Rayne Lyle). So when Jessica's beautiful, collegiate older sister Bethany (Blair Fowler) unexpectedly arrives to show her the ropes before school starts, Jessica is open, wide-eyed, and willing. Bethany hands her little sister a written "It List." On it is everything she'll need to meet the challenge. All Jessica has to do is follow four easy steps to achieve wonderful success in her new school: It's about clothes, the cheer team, a first boyfriend, and the "in" clique. Jessica's wary but game. Unfortunately, Jessica's journey isn't quite as simple as Bethany made it sound. Jessica's not really interested in clothes; she's certainly not interested in boys, doesn't even know who's in the "in clique," and has never done a "cheer" in her life. When the big day arrives, Jessica learns that fitting in is never easy. Amid assorted wannabe girls, unorthodox teachers, iffy moments with Bridget, and what she thinks are her own shortcomings, and armed with an It List that doesn't suit her at all, Jessica embarks on a very bumpy adventure.
Is it any good?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about movies made from books. If you've already read the book, did the film capture the spirit and intent of the story? What did you like or not like about the adaptation? If you haven't read it, did this movie inspire you to check it out and/or read other Megan McCafferty books?
Think about the adults portrayed in this movie, most of whom were comic characters. Which, if any, felt real to you? Which, if any, would you have trusted with your confidences and gone to for help? Why?
How did the Jessica-Bridget friendship change over the course of this movie? What did they learn about each other? At the end of the movie, what clues did the filmmakers give you to tell you where their relationship was going?
Themes & Topics
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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.