A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Switched is a faith-based coming-of-age movie in which a popular "mean girl" switches bodies with a girl that she bullies. The movie communicates positive messages such as empathy and gratitude. It also promotes acceptance of others and moving beyond the separations of high school cliquedom. The popular "mean girl" is a model who has built her "brand" on making viral videos that make fun of other students. She sets up a trap for the other lead character, which humiliates the other girl. After the two lead characters have "switched" places, they get into a pushing-and-shoving fight at a party, resulting in smeared cake over each other's faces. The movie, while not shying away from God and the Bible, is less heavy-handed than other faith-based movies.
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What's the story?
In SWITCHED, Katie Sharp is the most popular girl in high school. She's a model with four million followers on social media, but much of the success of her "brand" is due to making viral videos in which she makes fun of other kids for the way they dress. One of Katie's targets is Cassandra Evans, a socially awkward girl with glasses whose musical talents have led her to an audition to attend Julliard. Despite her talents, Cassandra wishes she could be like Katie, even as Katie torments her in the halls, the classroom, and on social media. After one of Katie's cruel hallway pranks at Cassandra's expense humiliates Cassandra and goes viral online, Cassandra prays to God for Katie to see what it's like to be in Cassandra's shoes. The very next morning, Cassandra wakes up in Katie's body, and Katie wakes up in Cassandra's body. Mortified by their predicaments, the two get a crash course in experiencing how the "other half" lives. It isn't easy for either of them, but as Katie grows to understand that her bullying has negative consequences, and Cassandra learns that popularity isn't everything, the two begin to learn the importance of empathy and acceptance.
Is it any good?
This movie uses perhaps the most overdone plot in all of cinema, the "ol' switcheroo," to communicate positive messages on empathy, acceptance, and anti-bullying. Switched is a faith-based coming-of-age movie that communicates its message with a relatively less heavy hand than other faith-based movies do when their characters discuss faith and spirituality. The acting is also way above the curve of the average faith-based movie. It's an earnest movie that makes a worthy effort at trying to get beyond the stereotypical characters of teen movies to really understand the nature of bullying.
That said, the ol' switcheroo is the tritest of clichés, no matter what positive messages are being communicated. The lead characters are themselves clichés: the "mean girl" and the "nerd who wears glasses." Aside from the mother of one of the lead characters, the adults, if they exist at all, are little more than an attempt at comic relief, if not complicit actors in the cyberbullying. For instance, the parents of the popular girl (played by Denise Richards and John Schneider) quit their jobs to "manage" their daughter's "brand," and don't have a problem with their daughter's social media cruelty as long as it generates millions of views, likes, hearts, smiley faces, etc. While clearly a sincere attempt to promote worthwhile and much-needed virtues like empathy, this overused storyline isn't the best way to communicate it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about bullying in teen movies. Do you think Switched accurately reflects the realities of high school bullying, in person and through social media? Why or why not?
What positive values and messages does the movie communicate?
There are countless examples of movies in which two "opposite" characters switch bodies. What do you think is the appeal of this formula? What are some examples?
- On DVD or streaming: September 4, 2020
- Cast: Madeline Byrne, Miya Horcher
- Director: John K.D. Graham
- Studio: Mustard Seed Entertainment
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, High School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 104 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: December 19, 2020
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