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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Told from the point of view of tweens who have been bullied, the film emphasizes efforts to regain self-confidence through positive action, to find solace in friendship, and to use even the most hurtful event as a source for growth, learning, and empathy towards others.
Positive Role Models
Two tweens start out as seemingly vulnerable bullying victims and over the course of the film develop and acknowledge inner strength, resourcefulness, and much to like about themselves. As means of self-preservation, they sometimes engage in questionable activities (i.e., stealing clothes, breaking into a motel room), all of which they intend to pay back at a later time. A busy mom must realign her priorities and step up for her daughter. Most summer camp personnel are portrayed as essentially clueless and irresponsible.
Violence & Scariness
In the suspenseful opening scene, young bullies prank two terrified campers by holding them against their will and leaving them both naked in the woods. Much later at a dance, the boy rescues the girl who is being sexually harassed by another teen bully. The two kids make a frantic getaway from a sleazy deputy sheriff who appears to mean them harm; there's a chase, a scary car ride, and cliffside danger.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some teens on a beach wear skimpy bikinis. A summer camp party shows kids slow dancing/embracing; one boy makes unwanted advances toward a 12-year-old girl, trying to kiss her and push himself on her.
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Almost no iffy language except "punk ass."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
An adult smokes a cigarette and appears intoxicated.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Standing Up takes a hard, earnest look at an act of cruel bullying, its aftermath, and profound effect on two vulnerable kids, ages 11 and 12. Based on The Goats, by Brock Cole, a popular and highly recommended book for kids 10-14, the film contains some scenes and situations that may be disturbing for very young or tender viewers. In addition to an initial prank where the kids are abandoned naked in the woods, the girl is later intimidated by the clumsy sexual advances of a teen bully. Also the two kids find themselves threatened by a seedy deputy sheriff, and a young boy reveals himself to be the victim of physical abuse by a parent. Still, the movie is an ideal starting point for important discussions about rejection, self-worth, empathy, and, above all, standing up for oneself. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Sensitively directed by D.J. Caruso, this earnest effort to film a beloved book feels authentic in its portrayal of this traumatic childhood event. The two lead actors are convincing, delivering the goods in subtle ways that show both their individual growth and the growing bond between them. In heartfelt moments that young audiences will certainly relate to, the two kids struggle at first with their role as victims, and later blossom as their journey helps them build confidence, self-respect, and confirms their inherent good values.
Along with Howie and Grace, kids should gain insight into why some people are hurtful, how they themselves might react if they were among the accepted kids, and exactly what makes some of us the designated "goats." Generally, Standing Up is a well-made film, tarnished only by the mostly one-dimensional adult characters and some substandard performances in smaller roles.
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