A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Violence & Scariness
Comic peril -- the kids fight the bad guys with water balloons and silly string.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Mild references to teen and adult romance.
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Some vulgar language.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the jokes in this movie are pretty vulgar for a G rating. T.J. uses the school public address system to make an announcement, pretending to be the principal, and talking about how he scratches his "big, saggy butt" once an hour. T.J.'s parents say they are going to take his temperature with a baby thermometer and some Vaseline (eliciting a few uncomfortable squeals from the audience). T.J. reads aloud from his sister's diary, including dramatic descriptions of teenage romance. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This is simply an episode of the popular TV series blown up for the big screen; at best, it's innocuous fun and the show's creators have a gift for remembering details about being a kid. It has higher-quality music (including baby-boomer re-treads like "Born to Be Wild," and "Let the Sun Shine") and more expensive voice talent (James Woods as the bad guy, Robert Goulet for some songs). But the plot, dialogue, and animation are no better than the low standards of Saturday morning television.
Judging by the reaction of the kids in the screening I attended, it is a crowd-pleaser, especially when T.J.'s gang uses the ultimate kid weapons -- water balloons, silly string, etc. -- on the bad guys. The movie, like the show, is racially diverse and has girl characters who are smart, strong, and capable. The kids are loyal to each other and show cooperation and teamwork. On the other hand, the movie assumes that all children and teachers hate school and that there is nothing interesting to learn and no value from education. Adults are ineffectual, uninterested, or dim. And T.J. forces his big sister to help him by threatening to put her diary on the Internet.
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.