A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this made-for-TV Disney movie is heavy on social mishaps. Characters are frequently (and needlessly) bullied, though many of the victims are rescued by the heroes, who go back in time to prevent the incidents. Some of the bullies antagonize their victims simply because they like being mean, and some characters see their social status climb because they choose not to defend friends who find themselves on the wrong side of the jock-geek divide. That said, the movie's message is to show how people can transcend that kind of stereotypical labeling.
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What's the story?
If you could go back in time, is there any single event you'd change? For Virgil (Jason Dolley), the answer is obvious: the first day of high school, when he tried to defend a geek from a crowd of football players, an incident that left both of them social outcasts. Fast forward three years, and Virgil's the self-described captain of the dorks, jealous of his childhood friend, who's now the school football star. Virgil's new best pal is Charlie (Luke Benward) -- aka the geek he saved on Day One -- who happens to be a scientific genius. When Charlie invents a time machine, they become the MINUTEMEN, repeatedly traveling back in time to protect their fellow dorks from the wanton attacks of school bullies.
Is it any good?
Minutemen is rife with stereotypes. There are jocks, cheerleaders, and other popular kids, as well as plenty of nerds, geeks, dorks, and other misfits -- including Zeke (Nicholas Braun), a hulking social outcast from shop class who's recruited because Virgil and Charlie need someone who's good with tools.
The film's strength is the way that it lays out these stereotypes and then tweaks them. When Zeke examines the plans for the time machine, he surprises everyone with his knowledge of advanced physics. "Yes, Mongo read," he tells Virgil and Charlie, making it clear that he knows he's considered a brain-dead loser -- and simultaneously proving that he's not. And as the trio saves other nerds from humiliation, the school's dorks and geeks begin to gain confidence, upsetting the entire social order for the better. Though parts of the film are silly and predictable, Minutemen offers a fun look at what school could be.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about social labels. Do you think the movie's depiction of high school cliques is accurate? How can these labels be hurtful? Kids: Do you think anyone has labeled you? How does that feel? Families can also discuss time travel. Why is it such a common plot device? Do you think the characters use their technology wisely? Are there any embarrassing moments in your past you would like to change?
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