Stepsister from Planet Weird

Movie review by
Tom Cassidy, Common Sense Media
Stepsister from Planet Weird Movie Poster Image
Gentle alien comedy deals with challenges of a new family.
  • NR
  • 2000
  • 85 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

The movie is intended to entertain rather than educate, but there are plenty of positive messages to be learned from it.

Positive Messages

Addresses the emotions kids can feel after a divorce or death of a parent. Empathy through communication and seeing others' perspectives. Humans and aliens learn to embrace their differences as positives. Exploring emotions through writing a diary. Humanity is celebrated. Some deception and scheming.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Megan -- a teenage daughter of divorcees -- has a warm, open, and honest relationship with her mother, with whom she lives. Her attitude to the divorce is mature. Megan and her mother are both active, with a love of windsurfing. When her mother gets engaged, Megan schemes with her future stepsister to break up the relationship.

Violence & Scariness

Characters are shot with a ray-gun and are frozen and morphed into cube-like form. Reference to the death of a parent.

Sexy Stuff

Adult characters kiss. Teens flirt with one another.

Language

Language includes "freak," "dweeb," and "sucker."

Consumerism

A clip from Disney's The Lion King movie is shown.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Stepsister from Planet Weird is a heartfelt Disney TV movie family comedy that deals with divorce, the death of a parent, and new families. Based on a YA book by Francess Lantz, it features two likable leads -- teenager Megan (Courtnee Draper) and alien Ariel (Tamara Hope). Megan's parents are divorced and Ariel's mother has died. When Megan's mom, Kathy (Khrystyne Haje) and Ariel's dad, Cosmo Cola (Lance Guest) get engaged, the movie explores the feelings this brings up in the girls, who at first don't get along. The adults behave responsibly and their interactions with the children are warm and understanding. Megan and Ariel scheme to break off the engagement but become friends in the process. Through both girls' diary entries being read in voiceover and seeing events from each girl's perspective, the movie is effective in teaching empathy and understanding. The smart writing makes the movie consistently funny. Two characters are frozen with a ray-gun and the effect could be a little scary for young viewers. There is mild language such as "freak," "dweeb," and "sucker." A clip from The Lion King is shown, reiterating that this is another movie from Disney's enormous library.

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What's the story?

In STEPSISTER FROM PLANET WEIRD, teenager Megan (Courtnee Draper) is coming to terms with her parents divorce. But when her mom gets engaged to an alien called Cosmo (Lance Guest) Megan's life is disrupted further by Cosmo's daughter Ariel (Tamara Hope). With both girls unhappy about their parent's new relationship, they decide to do their best to break them up.

Is it any good?

A delight from start to finish, this is a smart and consistently funny movie that is completely warmhearted. YA author Francess Lantz's novel is adapted for the screen by Chris Matheson, who wrote tween time-travel comedy Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. Like the Bill & Ted movies, Stepsister from Planet Weird has real affection for its teenage characters and even those shown in a negative light at the start are given their chance to shine. The relationships in the movie are all excellent, too. Megan and her mother, Kathy (Khrystyne Haje) are natural together and the oddball alien pair Cosmo Cola and Ariel from Planet Zircalon are hilarious.

It's also a fiercely humanistic movie, with aliens learning to love the ways of humans, and free will being championed. The movie's most effective element is how it shows understanding and empathy, with each girl's diary being read in voiceover, letting us see key scenes from two completely different perspectives. Smart, very funny, and surprising, Stepsister from Planet Weird is stellar family fun that unfortunately has flown under most people's radar.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the role of families in Stepsister from Planet Weird. How does the family dynamic change throughout the movie? How does divorce and/or the death of a parent impact a family?

  • Talk about how empathy is depicted in the movie. How did hearing Megan and Ariel sharing their thoughts about the same situations and people change our views on them? Why is empathy such an important character strength to have? How can I use media to teach my kid empathy?

  • Megan and Ariel don't always share their true feelings openly but write them down in their diaries. What might be the benefits of keeping a diary? Why is it important to communicate your feelings? How can I use media to help my kid's communication skills?

  • Cosmo was a freedom fighter on his home planet, fighting against the emperor who said change is bad. Do you think one person should make all the rules or is democracy and free will a better option?

Movie details

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