A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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.
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What's the story?
In STANDING UP, two frightened, naked, and friendless summer camp kids, Howie (Chandler Canterbury) and Grace (Annalise Basso) have been left alone in the woods by a group of heartless young attendees of Camp Tall Pine. They're the traditional "goats" in an annual late-night event that is meant only to humiliate and divide. Initially, Howie and Grace feel helpless and ill-equipped to even survive the night, but they're terrified of going back. Finding strength in each other, they determine to escape their tormentors and make their way through the woods to safety on their own. What follows is a series of adventures -- surprising, funny, scary, and ultimately, life-affirming. As inept authorities attempt to trace their steps, Howie and Grace outwit everyone, making friends along the way, and create a true friendship that changes them and how they will forever see the world.
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Parents and kids can discuss different types of bullying that they've seen at school, on the playground, at work, etc. What are the potential results of standing by and doing nothing? What are the potential results of standing up for those who are being bullied?
Talk about some of the illegal and dishonest things that Howie and Grace had to do in order to survive. Were their actions forgivable? Why or why not?
Camp staff members talked about the hurtful prank as a tradition. Can you think of other instances of humiliating and mean behavior that might be thought of as traditional in schools, social clubs, or the work place? Is this acceptable? If not, how would you propose ending those activities?
- In theaters: August 16, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: September 3, 2013
- Cast: Annalise Basso, Chandler Canterbury, Radha Mitchell
- Director: D.J. Caruso
- Studio: ABC Entertainment
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Book Characters, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 93 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: thematic elements including bullying, and for brief smoking and language
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