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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
In its own way, this movie shows the consequences for a boy who is constantly making up elaborate stories to try and get out of trouble. The movie also discusses how the kind of person you are inside is more important than what you do for a living.
Positive Role Models
For all his mischief, Thomas is basically a good kid who learns what happens when all you do is tell stories to fellow students and to authority figures. Thomas also learns that the value of having real friends over knowing people who are "popular."
Violence & Scariness
Mostly cartoonish violence and pratfalls. Some bullying; a bully slams a metal door into the arm of the lead character, knocking him to the floor and making it seem that his arm is broken. A boy opens a metal case to find a gun inside. While crawling inside a ventilation shaft, two kids narrowly escape a gas fire that erupts behind them.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some tween kissy-kissy flirtation.
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Some name-calling from bullies along the order of "loser" and "jerk."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
An adult character smokes a cigar.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Spy School is essentially a movie-length extrapolation of the expression, "Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when we practice to deceive." The lead character, Thomas, is a mischievous liar, but eventually he learns a valuable lesson in truth telling. The movie also shows how and why it's better to value the friends who actually like you over classmates who are merely perceived as being "popular." There's some cartoonish violence, but, more troubling, there's also some bullying, including a scene in which a bully slams a door into the main character's arm, knocking him to the ground and leaving him with what he thinks is a broken arm. Parents should also know that despite the movie's title, this movie is not set in a spy school; the change from an earlier title (Doubting Thomas) seems like an attempt to lump this in with more successful movies like Spy Kids. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Kids will enjoy SPY SCHOOL for its portrayal of bumbling and oafish authority figures, and the mischievous ways in which Thomas gets out of trouble through his over-the-top tales. Parents who can overlook these cartoonish portrayals will ultimately enjoy the movie's overarching message on why it's important to tell the truth. Through the exaggerated parody of middle school life and the misadventures in the story itself, timeless messages of being honest and being grateful for the friends you have emerge.
Although it's the kind of movie that makes it hard to suspend disbelief, there's enough charm in the acting to overcome some of the forced plot points along the way. As lead liar Thomas, Forrest Landis isn't as annoying as other precocious child actors playing precocious kids, and as his would-be girlfriend, AnnaSophia Robb, adds a dimension of sweetness to the movie as the two characters navigate through the difficulties of a budding tween romance. It's not the most sophisticated comedy out there for families, but the humor and the message should make this a movie both parents and kids can enjoy.
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.
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