What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this tween-targeted musical offers positive messages about self confidence, self expression, and finding friendship and inspiration in unlikely places. The main character evolves from self-absorbed rebel to a (mostly) reliable team player who's not afraid to stand up to peer pressure. Sure, the whole thing is a sanitized view of teen life (everyone's friends in the end, and, despite his missteps, Nikko gets to realize his rocker dream after all), but on the whole, it's a tween-pleasing tale with hardly any iffy content -- unless you count a teen couple's first kiss.
What's the story?
Rock star-wannabe Nikko (Nolan Gerard Funk) is a fish out of water after he's dumped by both his band and his girlfriend on the same night. When he's approached by bubbly classmate Courtney (Tammin Sursok) -- who hopes to recruit him for her show choir, Spectacular! -- he scathingly declines. But he changes his tune when Courtney promises him half the prize money if he helps her group win an upcoming competition against rival squad Ta-Da. Nikko grudgingly joins the troupe with dollar signs in his eyes -- but he quickly discovers that his talented new comrades are a surprisingly fun group. What's more, his fresh outlook on the competitive world of show choir energizes them ... but not Courtney. An ensuing power struggle threatens both the success of Spectacular! and the possibility of Nikko's own stardom.
Is it any good?
With SPECTACULAR!, Nickelodeon attempts to loosen the iron grip Disney established on tween-targeted modern-day musicals with High School Musical and its sequels. Spectacular! definitely has some similarities to HSM -- including a talented cast, upbeat song-and-dance numbers, and age-appropriate content for tweens -- but there are also some marked differences. Nikko is a bit of a bad boy, mouthing off to his older brother (who acts as his guardian) and flaunting a major superiority complex with the choir members. Courtney's also guilty of some errors in judgment, including allowing her passion for upstaging Ta-Da -- and lead singer Royce (Simon Curtis), who defected from Spectacular! -- to lead to promising Nikko money that belonged to the group.
But rather than weighing the story down, these character flaws actually benefit the overall package. They allow the characters to evolve -- and, in the end, that's what tweens will take away from this story. Spectacular! can't boast the same pure star power of its popular Disney rival, but it does offer equally kid-friendly entertainment with strong positive overtones. Though parents will find the story predictable and more than a little cheesy, tweens are sure to embrace it and the messages it sends.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about peer pressure. What kinds of ways do teens put peer pressure on each other? Is it always obvious, or can subtle comments or gestures have just as much impact? Have you ever experienced peer pressure? How did you handle it? Has fear over your friends' reaction ever kept you from doing something you wanted to do?