A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this film about four girls the summer before middle school made the Heartland and Family Film Festival circuits before making it to DVD and as such is focused on being uplifting family fare. So while it tackles mature themes such as divorce, homelessness, and an older brother coming home from Iraq in a wheelchair, it does so rather mildly and offers some pat answers to these difficult problems. There's mild swearing in one scene where there's also beer drinking by adults. Also, one of the girls asks how people get pregnant, the camera cuts away assuming the other girls tell her, and then you see her say "My parents did that?!"
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
It's the summer before middle school for four girls in an L.A. neighborhood and it's time to hang out, chase the ice cream truck, have sleepovers in the backyard, and talk out all 11-year-old worries and problems. Besides the fear of a new school in the fall, these 11-year-olds are facing bigger issues. Vanessa (Alice Ziolkoski) is trying to make it as a child actress and really wants to do a feature film, Jess (Sarah Butterworth) is coping with her parents' separation and her mom's boyfriend who seems to have taken over their home, Lizzie (Meaghan Hughes) has her brother return home from Iraq changed both physically and mentally, and Peri (Sydney Fox) is living out of the family car with her mother and brother right under the noses of their former neighbors.
Is it any good?
There are so few movies about girls this age being regular 11-year-olds it makes this one seem refreshing somehow, despite its faults. The girls are all earnest, thoughtful, and sweet and feel very real. Their struggles are real, too, with a brother home from Iraq, impending divorce, and the sad result of a foreclosed home.
Thankfully none of these issues drives the movie to melodrama -- instead it errs on the side of movie-of-the-week patness. Living out of your car? Move into our guest house while you get back on your feet. Hmmm. And while the pace is leisurely like a kid's summer before homework and sports practice, it really drags in places, making the 93-minute running time feel much longer.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about movies featuring 11-year-old girls. Can you think of many? Why do you think there are so few?
For girls around this age, could you relate to the other girls? Do you like that they seem like normal kids, or do you prefer girls who sing and dance on the Disney Channel?
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