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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Once I Was a Beehive is a comedy about a non-Mormon teenager who goes to a Latter-day Saints summer camp. The film pokes fun at a lot of stereotypes about Mormons and shows that there's more to the campers (and all Mormons) than the preconceived notions held by the main character. But nonreligious viewers may find the focus on faith off-putting. There's not a lot of iffy content here, though adults do drink a champagne toast, and a teenage girl takes a swig out of a champagne bottle. Romance is limited to a kiss between a married couple and some primping and throwing of flirtatious glances at two park rangers deemed "hot" by the campers and camp leaders. There are also some mild insults ("brat" and "spoiled butt"), and a camper gets a bloody nose when she's hit in the face with a snowball. A main character's father dies of cancer, and she has to come to terms with her grief over his death.
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What's the story?
In ONCE I WAS A BEEHIVE, a year after Lane's (Paris Warner) father dies of cancer, her mother remarries a Mormon man and leaves Lane with her new step-aunt and step-cousin while she goes on a three-week honeymoon with her new husband. Charmed by her quirky cousin Phoebe (Mila Smith), who suffers from anxiety, Lane finds herself pressured to attend a Mormon girls' camp with her. When Lane arrives, she's convinced she'll have to suffer through a boring week with uptight girls who fulfill all the stereotypes she's heard about Mormons, but as the week progresses, she finds out she has a lot to learn about faith, family, and acceptance.
Is it any good?
It has an abundance of corny religious camp songs and a predictable plot, but this heartfelt comedy manages to be charming with a self-deprecating tone that the heavy-handed messages go down. The main actresses (Paris Warner and Mila Smith) are believable and compelling, even when the dialogue is somewhat cloying. And while the plot isn't new, the film's attempt to show a new side to a much-maligned group is admirable and sometimes quite funny.
While Once I Was a Beehive probably will mostly appeal to a religious (especially Mormon) audience, it has strong messages about tolerance that will appeal to most parents. And families looking for a faith-based movie for tweens will find a lot to like.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about empathy in Once I Was a Beehive. How does Lane show empathy for Phoebe? How does she use her experience with her father's death to relate to Phoebe's experiences?
Many of the characters show compassion for one another in various ways. How does Nedra show compassion for Lane? How does Lane show compassion for Phoebe? What does Lane teach Brie about compassion?
How do the campers show teamwork? What does Brie learn about leadership and being a good leader to her fellow campers?
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