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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Rafe breaks a lot of rules, but he does so to raise questions about the idea of rules just for the sake of rules. Also messages about the importance of sibling relationships and the less-than-ideal practice of teaching for a test rather than teaching actual students. Encourages honesty and communication between family members, though the examples of both aren't always clearly presented.
Positive Role Models
Rafe and Georgia's mom loves her kids and wants to help them do their best. Even though the siblings fight, Georgia is worried about her big brother. Rafe is smart, talented, and clever. Jeannie is socially conscious and stands up for Rafe, and vice versa. But most of the adults are unkind and unhelpful.
Violence & Scariness
Pratfalls and sight gags of people falling, a dog peeing, a girl illegally driving a car she purposely damages, and mild school "vandalism" with art. A character's prized possession is destroyed. Sad discussions about a dead family member.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
An embrace/kiss between adults, one kiss between middle schoolers, and a mention of a "hot" stepmom by a student government candidate.
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"Buttwipe," "doofus," "sucks," "crap," "what rhymes with suck?," "oh my God," "what the hell," frickin', "totally screwed," "jerks," "twerps," "loser," "stupid," "pissed off."
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Products & Purchases
Products/brands seen or mentioned include iPhone, Stussy, Ford Explorer, BMW, Post-It Notes, Dave and Busters, Instagram, Facebook, Apple MacBook, PT Cruiser, Nike, and Adidas.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink socially at a restaurant.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life is a comedy based on the best-selling book by James Patterson. The story revolves around a rebellious middle schooler who breaks lots of school rules. Little kids might be upset by that, but tweens and young teens will realize that he's doing it for a valid reason: questioning rules just for the sake of having rules. While there's no violence, several pratfalls are played for laughs, and there are sad discussions about a dead family member. Expect a bunch of insults and almost-swear words like "what the...," "what rhymes with suck," and "frickin'," as well as "pissed off," "buttwipe," "doofus," "stupid," "crap," and more. There's also some light romance (including kissing and reference to a "hot" stepmom). But the movie also encourages honesty and communication between families and siblings and the importance of teachers who focus on students rather than test scores. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This entertaining adaptation captures the spirit of the book's quirky main character's quest to break ridiculous rules and carry on after personal tragedy. Gluck's Rafe is as "adorkable" in the movie as he is in the book, with a whip-smart imagination and vivid drawings that come to life around him. The beauty of the title, Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life, is that most adults and even some younger viewers can relate to the daily challenges of middle school: indifferent administrators, bullies, social hierarchies, and rules -- some that make sense and others that seem silly and/or pointless. Rafe and Leo demonstrate a strong friendship as they try to show their classmates how unnecessary most of the rules are to their education.
Daly is ideal as the principal who loves his rules and his No. 1 certificates for being first in the state's achievement tests (hilariously called the B.L.A.A.R). Parks and Recreation vet Retta co-stars as his devoted assistant principal, who -- like her beloved boss -- believes you should "teach to the test, not the students." (Um, nope.) Riggle makes the most out of playing Carl, Rafe's soon-to-be stepdad, who pretends he cares about the kids in front of their mom but really wants them out of the way. The light romance and rebellion make this a better fit for tweens and actual middle schoolers rather than really young kids, as does a poignant plot point that explains a lot of Rafe's behavior.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.