So, yes. Jessica Darling's It List is something we've all seen before. Nerdy 7th Grader feels pressured to be popular by her friends, her sister and her sort of awful mother. In the end, she of course learns that she will like her life, and the kinds of friends she makes better, if she just acts like herself.
The positives: the dialogue and some of the situations (the school mascot drama, the competing cheer teams) are going to be fresh enough to impress it's tween audience, and not completely make parents gag. Plus, I felt they were all pretty accurate depictions of both my own, and my daughter's junior high experience. For, what is the 7th Grade, if not a cheesy direct-to-film dramedy? I really liked how Jessica recognized that her and her best friend Bridget were growing apart, and that it wasn't worth forcing their friendship to stay together. I also liked that the plot did not involve a "take down" of the vapid, popularity obsessed Sara and Manda. I knew (and know - because I'm the mom of a 12 year old) girls who are that transparent about their need to be popular. And the truth is, they don't need a slapstick comedic comeupppance. They just need some time to grow up, and hopefully people who love them and remind them of their better qualities. Bonus points for a girl with engineering aspirations taking shop class.
The Downsides: The plot resolves a little to quickly to be realistic. And, like I said, if you are out of junior high, it's pretty predictable. But if you are out of junior high, this film is not for you.
To discuss: Jessica's mother and older sister put so much emphasis on her looks. Her mother never really apologizes in the film. We talked about why parents might be like that. But my daughter - who is kinda like Jessica - really felt that she would feel like I valued her less if I focussed more on her appearance.