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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
It's possible to accomplish seemingly difficult goals. The national anthem honors our military.
Positive Role Models
Stange is a lively, personable, driven woman who is warm and friendly to strangers and persists in achieving a goal. Stange suggests her family instilled in her a need to "give back."
Violence & Scariness
Fallen American soldiers are honored. Stange encounters a soldier returning from the funeral of his best friend, who died in combat. Two boys who lost their military father are shown. A photo of a soldier in uniform who lost a leg.
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Products & Purchases
Stange now has a website to promote her career as a "motivational speaker, singer & media personality," inviting people to "Book Janine" for speaking engagements.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that National Anthem Girl tells the story of 30-something Janine Stange, who in 2014 fulfilled a two-year, self-funded ambition to sing the national anthem in all 50 states, culminating in a celebration of the song's 200th anniversary. Stange embarked on this project when her career as a singer failed to take off, so although the movie superficially praises patriotism and sacrifice by our armed forces, the focus is on Stange, driven to complete a task designed at least in part to capitalize on the accompanying public exposure. Stange shouldn't be confused with 9-year-old Madison Baez, known in some news stories as "Anthem Girl," and who has sung before a crowd of 50,000 at a Dodgers game. The death of several members of the military are cited, as are Gold Star families. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
While moments of National Anthem Girl are uplifting, the movie ultimately disappoints. A subject that could've been moving and worthwhile instead feels like a 76-minute highlights reel of a wannabe singer crassly using patriotism as an excuse for self-advertisement. One is left waiting for Stange to say something of substance indicating a deeper understanding of the sacrifice she supposedly appreciates. When interviewers ask why she embarked on her crusade, she replies with clichés. 1."There's gotta be respect." 2. "This is an awesome song." 3. "Because I absolutely love America and I love what the national anthem represents. It's not just a song. It's our song." In Kansas City, she cites 9/11, recalling that she did not go into Manhattan that day in 2001 and that's why she is able to be there in Kansas City, years later, to sing. "The national anthem causes you to think about those things," she adds.
But thinking is something this movie sorely lacks. Eleven headshots in a row of the lovely Stange -- coy, determined, pert, seductive -- are paraded across the screen to tell us, what exactly? She and director Jefferson Moore could have used that screen time to visit wounded veterans in each of the 50 states, or to promote the many vital and caring organizations that assist veterans. (She does support Operation Gratitude, which sends care packages accompanied by handwritten notes from ordinary citizens to deployed troops.) Stange is at times charming and attractive, and seems generally sincere, but when she lists the difficulties of her travel arrangements and the blow this project dealt her bank account, the obliviousness feels tone-deaf in contrast to the obstacles that the soldiers she supposedly admires face every day as they protect our country.
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.