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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Lots of "mean girl" cattiness and cruelty, particularly during rush (the Kappa sisters are advised to target "cute pledges" and avoid "fat losers") and when the Kappas haze their new pledges (Rachel submits each girl to a blunt analysis of the flaws in her appearance, strafes pledges with water guns, addresses them as "skanks," etc.). But it's made very clear that everything Rachel does is unacceptable, and the movie's overall message is a positive one -- be true to yourself and accept others for who they are, and you'll be a lot happier in the end. There's also a fair amount of stereotyping; virtually everyone except Sydney fits into a "type" (spoiled sorority girl, geeky Star Wars nerd, bulky football player), and student groups are portrayed very one-dimensionally during the student council campaigning scenes. But again, it all ends up being used to reinforce lessons about diversity and tolerance.
Violence & Scariness
Mostly minor comic falls and tussles. Terrence's experiments are often accompanied with small explosions, and fire occasionally breaks out in the Vortex, but no one gets hurt. Rachel drives her golf cart through a phalanx of marching band students, who tumble to get out of her way. A few screen shots of a first-person shooter video game.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Lots of flirting, with some kissing and talk of "hotties" and "hooking up." Spanky is obsessed with women and sex (he's enthralled by Sydney's sports bra, saying "that thing has touched boobs!"). Female characters' skimpy tank tops, shorts, sundresses, and bikinis prompt ogling among the guys. A scene in which Sydney eats ice cream with relish (with guys watching eagerly) prompts a comment of "this is a SO-rority, not a HO-rority." The school's "Hot or Not" list plays an important role in the plot. Male construction workers wolf-whistle at an attractive woman; Sydney matches them by whistling at cute boys. Sydney's dad attempts to explain the birds and the bees using plumbing supplies.
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Not that bad for PG-13, but definitely strong for the younger tweens who love Bynes. "Bitch" is used a couple of times, as are "hell," "damn," "ho," "crap," "skanks," "ass," "booty," "whoring," "douche-baggy," "hump," "shut up," "pissed," "screwed," and "loser."
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Products & Purchases
Rachel is obsessed with labels (her "soothing words" are Gucci, Prada, Chanel, Armani, etc.), and the Kappa sisters are very materialistic in general (they look down on Sydney for having a plumber as a dad). Brands/products include a Mac laptop, MySpace, cell phones, and a Scooby-Doo nightlight.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
No smoking or drugs, but a fair amount of both visible and implied drinking. During tailgate and fraternity party scenes, many students (most of whom are presumably under 21) are seen holding plastic cups; they're not explicitly beer, but it's implied. One character sets a "keg stand" record at the Beta party, earning lots of praise and applause. Some alumni (and possibly students) hold beer bottles at the tailgate, and Sydney and the guys attract people to their booth by offering "free drinks." Tyler mentions having to pick up a keg early in the movie, and the frat house boasts an impressive beer-can wall.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this take on Snow White is tween favorite Amanda Bynes' most mature movie to date. She's as sweet and down-to-earth as always, but the film's focus on college Greek life includes drinking (one character is applauded for breaking a "keg stand" record) and catty "mean girl" behavior (hazing, cruel put downs, and more). Characters use words like "bitch," "ass," and "ho"; there's some kissing, flirting, and innuendo; and characters obsess about the school's online "Hot or Not" list. All of that said, the movie's messages about accepting people for who they are and being yourself are on target for tweens and young teens. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
There's a reason Amanda Bynes is beloved by tweens everywhere: She's down-to-earth, funny, and cute as a button -- plus, she actually looks like a real person, rather than a stick-thin waif. She puts her abundant charm to good use as Sydney in this fairy tale update that is clever and amusing in spots and overly precious and cutesy in others.
Sydney White's story is hardly groundbreaking, and the stereotyped characterizations get a bit old -- in addition to the shallow, blond sorority sisters and Klingon-fluent nerds, the movie presents a parade of single-note student groups (the ROTC kids are buff and stoic, the Jewish kids all have side-curls and dance the horah, etc.) -- but the movie has its moments. Some of the Snow White references are funny, if verging on crude (like when the Vortex gang marches past Rachel in a line, greeting her with a chorus of "hi, ho"s), and the cast is genuinely appealing. Tweens who are used to seeing Bynes in movies like What a Girl Wants may not be quite prepared for Sydney White's boisterous fraternity party scenes or the Kappa sisters' cruel pledge hazing, but teens who've grown up with the star since her days on All That and The Amanda Show may have just found their new favorite slumber party movie.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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Our Editors Recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate