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 movie starts out like a giggly teen romance movie, but it gets serious as the bullying intensifies. There's a scene where a teen takes an overdose of pills and is taken to the hospital. There's some salty language for a middle school movie, and some sexual references.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Vanessa Snyder (Alexa Vega) is pretty lucky to be part of the popular crowd. She gets the inside jokes, she gets attention from the guys, she even gets gifts from her wealthy BFF, Stacey (Leah Pipes) when they go on an expensive shopping spree. But these alliances are pretty precarious, and Vanessa finds out just how painful it is to be dumped by the in-crowd. She becomes the victim of a cyberbullying campaign against her that is so damaging that she begins to skip school. Stacey's manipulations drive Vanessa off the deep end, doing damage that Vanessa's mother (Lisa Vidal) cannot stop, despite her good efforts. Inspired by Rachel Simmons' book Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture Of Aggression In Girls, this movie is an important look into the emotional damage that can be wreaked in school.
Is it any good?
It's gut-wrenching to see Vanessa drop from the heights of popularity to the rocky depths of rejection, but this movie has an important message for adults and teens alike. For one thing, it illustrates how the cyberage provides a platform for bullies to ply their trade. And Alexa Vega portrays the arc of a victim of bullying convincingly. Her eyes absolutely shine when her friend Stacey smiles at her. Moreover, she is absolutely crushed when she discovers how she is being ridiculed. Luckily, Vanessa has a mother who cares profoundly for her well-being. Here is a hip, engaged parent, who suddenly loses the ability to relate to her daughter and watches helplessly while tantrums are thrown and doors are slammed. Like many contemporary parents, Barbara has no idea how the cyberculture is affecting her child's private life. Barbara is shocked to see her daughter's computer screen fill with jeers, taunts, and insults. She rails against the school that allows this emotional violence to occur, and sits mutely as her daughter falls for the sweet talk of her former best friend -- in short, she is given the role of a real mom in a delicate situation.
Though the end of the movie feels a little jangly, there is enough substance here to open some vital doors of communication between parents and their kids -- especially those kids who might very well experience this type of emotional warfare at school.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how hard it is for tweens and teens to talk to their parents about the stuff that goes on in school. Vanessa's mom wants to help Vanessa, but she can only intervene so much. She's torn between getting involved in her daughter's business and encouraging her daughter to stand up for herself. Vanessa needs help, but there is no one she feels she can turn to. How can families avoid this trap?
This movie illustrates how terrifying cyberbulllying can be. Did you know that 43% of kids have been victims of cyberbullying -- and only 10% tell their parents about it? But that's just scratching the surface. Protect yourself if you're a kid, or your kids if you're a parent, by reading more here.
Vanessa is horrified to hear that her friends think she's fat -- even though she's lean. How can girls deal with pressure to be thin? Here's some advice for those coping with the pressure to be thin.
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