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 movie portrays stereotypical high-school students, grouping them into neat little cliques including "populars" and "jocks." The only ones who escape shallowness are Jamie and her best friends. Jamie's character is strengthened by her struggles with the pressures of success; the self-awareness and confidence she gains by listening to her conscience is a worthwhile lesson for tweens and teens. Themes of friendship and loyalty are emphasized throughout the movie.
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What's the story?
Freshman Jamie Bartlett (Kay Panabaker) is frustrated with high-school life. She wonders what it would be like to be popular, where Marco the hunk (Chad Broskey) might notice her and snooty Sawyer (Allison Scagliotti) would remember her name. To escape the pressures of school, Jamie retreats to her journal, weaving a tale about teen heroine Isabella ("Is"), who's beautiful, self-assured, and popular and can effortlessly zap any pesky person out of her way. When she accidentally turns in her journal as a homework project, Jamie wins a writing contest and finds her books on shelves nationwide. Suddenly she's caught up in the whirlwind of photo shoots and guest appearances and starts to lose touch with her friends and herself. Meanwhile, Is (played by Kay's big sister, Danielle Panabaker) becomes a real presence for Jamie, though no one else can see her. As Jamie's stardom grows, her literary alter ego pops in and out of her life to influence every move she makes. Jamie eventually becomes disenchanted with her new life and in the end must decide whether popularity is worth sacrificing self-respect and true friendship.
Is it any good?
READ IT AND WEEP is Disney TV at its best, using strong characters, great casting (the Panabaker sisters are fantastic), and catchy tunes to entertain and emphasize morals. Tweens will enjoy the comedic spin on Jamie's school woes, and parents will like the messages about friendship and self-confidence.
The one dull spot is the character of Jamie's mom, Peggy (Connie Young), who pushes her daughter into promotional situations that seem to make Jamie uncomfortable. Disney did a disservice to this lone adult female role model, portraying her as even more starstruck than her daughter.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about peer pressure and popularity. How do your friends' or classmates' opinions affect your own? Who defines what's cool? Why is it hard to be the only one to feel a certain way? How have you stood up to the influence of others? Families also can talk about being a good friend. How might you react to a friend's sudden popularity?
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