By Emily Ashby,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Musical mixes positive messages and tween appeal.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie has positive messages about self confidence, self discovery, and the fulfillment of marching to the beat of your own drum. Although its view of teen life is highly sanitized, the characters face some issues that will resonate with tweens, like peer pressure and weighing personal ambition against the needs of a team. Before seeing the light, Nikko exhibits some bad-boy behavior (breaking the band's sound equipment, mouthing off to his older brother/guardian, poking fun at choir members for their choice of musical genre, etc.).
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Mild flirting between teens that culminates in one kiss. "Hot" is used to describe a teen girl.
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"Dumb" and "stupid" are about as strong as it gets.
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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.
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Where to Watch
Based on 5 parent reviews
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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?
Though parents will find the story predictable and more than a little cheesy, tweens are sure to embrace it and the messages it sends. 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.
Talk to Your Kids 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?
- In theaters: February 16, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: March 31, 2009
- Cast: Nolan Gerard Funk, Simon Curtis, Tammin Sursok, Victoria Justice
- Director: Robert Iscove
- Studio: Sony Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 93 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: March 31, 2022
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