Want more recommendations for your family?
Sign up for our weekly newsletter for entertainment inspiration
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
You don't have to have a lot of money to succeed at a project if you work hard and put your time and effort into it. Even in underprivileged schools, there are bright students who just need a chance to show they can rise to the occasion. Sheds a light on the challenges faced by immigrant and undocumented families.
Positive Role Models
Gwen is a committed teacher who goes above and beyond to make sure her students are reaching their potential, and the principal really cares about her students. Mr. Cameron goes from disinterested sub to loving his robotics students and being a devoted mentor. The kids from Carl Hayden are examples of how undocumented kids/teens can be productive members of American society.
Violence & Scariness
A high school boy repeatedly bullies a "nerdy" classmate, stealing his money and lunch, stalking him around school, and punching him. A big guy intervenes on the nerdy friend's behalf and gets in a fist fight with the bully. A big brother pushes his younger brother and a friend around to keep them from robbing a convenience store. Two of the Robotics club guys push and shove and have to be separated before getting into a full fight. References to an accident that killed a man's daughter.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Kisses between two teens; one shot of Oscar with his shirt off as he changes clothes. Miscellaneous high schoolers kiss in the halls.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Iffy English words include "hell," "damn," and "stupid." Most of the insults are said in Spanish: "Cabron," for example, literally means "goat," but is a crass insult that roughly translates to "a--hole" or even "f--ker" but can also be used among friends. "Pinche" and "pendejo" are also used pretty frequently.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
Blackberry, McDonald's, Hooters, Red Bull, Corona beer.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Two adults take shots of tequila together. A father drinks a beer. Teens smoke cigarettes outside school.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Spare Parts is based on the true story of an underdog high school in Phoenix that entered a robotics competition against M.I.T. and other universities. Like the documentary Underwater Dreams (which tells the same story), the movie explains how the mostly undocumented Mexican-American students managed, against the odds, to excel in a competition that seemingly favored wealthier, more privileged teams. There's some cursing (mostly in Spanish, with words like "hell" in English), a couple of scenes of adults drinking and teens smoking, some kissing, and a few fist fights. But overall the film is a feel-good starting point for discussions with mature tweens and teens about issues related to class, expectations, and immigration. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Anyone who's seen an underdog story knows from the very beginning that these kids are going to triumph -- otherwise there wouldn't be a film about them. But despite the story's predictability, it's still a heartwarming (if occasionally cheesy) tale about a group of people who are often maligned: undocumented immigrants. The Mexican-American teens depicted in the movie face seemingly insurmountable odds, but they manage to do their best with less money and fewer opportunities than their competition.
Those familiar with the real story (and the excellent documentary about it, Underwater Dreams) will note that the Hollywood version includes many fictionalized elements. While some are eye-rollingly unnecessary -- i.e. the promise of romance between Lopez and a fellow caring teacher played by Marisa Tomei -- the heart of the story is true to the real events. PenaVega (Big Time Rush) gets to romance his real-life wifem Alexa PenaVega, who plays Oscar's understanding girlfriend Karla -- a U.S. citizen. Although Lopez is no Edward James Olmos, he's a good fit as the team's adviser, and Jamie Lee Curtis is breezy and fun as the kind but no-nonsense principal who's thrilled to finally have some good news. Unlike the documentary, Spare Parts stays away from any overtly politicized view of immigration, but the message is the same: Bright, clever students are everywhere, and they can succeed given a chance.
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.