A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Status Update is a comedy about a high schooler named Kyle (Ross Lynch) who learns how to be himself thanks to a magic phone app. Bullies pick on the main characters, with pushing, shoving, fighting, and some iffy dialogue. Kyle kisses two young women (one "bad" and one "good"), and a married woman throws herself at him. High school girls are somewhat objectified (i.e., shown wearing revealing clothing), and there's some sex-related talk and gesturing. There isn't much diversity in the core cast, and several characters are pretty stereotypical. Language includes "bulls--t," "p---y," "bitch," and more. Teen drinking is both implied and directly shown, and an adult drinks heavily, ending up comically drunk. Twitter and Instagram are mentioned fairly frequently, as is Pinterest. Although it's not particularly good, it does have a clear message about the value of being true to yourself.
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What's the story?
In STATUS UPDATE, Kyle Moore (Ross Lynch) is forced to move from Huntington Beach to Connecticut -- from a world of surfing to ice hockey -- after his parents separate. He befriends nerdy Lonnie (Harvey Guillen) at school, as well as singer Dani (Olivia Holt), but he misses his dad and manages to run afoul of some bullies. A bearded man at a mysterious mall kiosk sells Kyle a new phone, complete with a special app: Whenever Kyle updates his status, it instantly comes true. He uses it to join the music program so he can be with Dani, but in order to one-up the bullies, he also joins the hockey team and becomes the star player. That attracts the attention of the pretty but manipulative Charlotte (Courtney Eaton). Disaster strikes when the night of the music performance is the same as the big game. And to make matters even worse, Kyle's phone breaks, and the magic app becomes worthless. How will he manage?
Is it any good?
This teen comedy with a "be yourself" message is slickly artificial, grinding painfully through extremely well-worn plot mechanics and essentially failing to follow its own message. With its amped-up performances and overwritten characters (it's kind of like they're all attention-starved puppy dogs), Status Update instantly smacks of an after-school special or other low-budget fare. Moreover, the movie insists on having its characters look and sound like stereotypes: The main character has long, blonde "surfer-dude" hair; the nerdy best friend is overweight; and the gay character is a fashionista. Oh, and non-white characters exist only on the sidelines.
In fact, no one here resembles an actual human being that viewers might know or spend time with. The storyline has been done a million times before, and not much flair or cleverness has gone into updating it for the mobile age. Status Update runs through all the familiar twists with as little effort as possible, including all the old "be careful what you wish for" clichés. For example, when Kyle tries out for the hockey team, his magic post says that he "skated like a pro." So he proceeds to perform a figure-skating program in front of the team. (This is arguably the movie's best joke.) Perhaps the most difficult parts to get through, however, are the musical numbers. Too bad this movie can't be wished away.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the stereotyping in Status Update. Which characters seemed stereotypical to you? Why is that a problem? How does it extend to messages about worth? (For instance, why is one of the young women Kyle gets involved with considered "good," while the other is "bad"?)
In one scene, a teen girl shames another teen girl about food and eating (she asks about her "food baby"). Have you ever seen this kind of shaming behavior in real life? How did you react?
How does the movie depict bullies? How are they dealt with? Is it satisfying? Is it responsible? What lessons are learned?
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