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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie intends to entertain rather than educate, but there are some strong messages about self-awareness and appreciating individuality.
Viewers see a teen wrestle with conflicting emotions about her future goals and the expectations placed on her by others. The process teaches her to listen to her heart and trust her instincts, which earns her the respect of those around her and gives her a stronger self-identity. Positive relationships with friends and family are a source of strength for many of the characters. Because the story exists in two different eras, there are some gender stereotypes that exist in scenes set in the past (girls make it their goal to land a boyfriend, guys assume the dominant role in relationships, etc.) that are then challenged by the modern-day characters, with positive messages about gender equality, tolerance, and individuality.
Positive Role Models
Brady and McKenzie help make good changes in Tanner's and Lela's lives by inspiring them to stand up for what they believe. It's their willingness to challenge the status quo that changes how the teens think and winds up saving them all.
Violence & Scariness
The movie's villains are more comical than they are intimidating, but they do hold teens hostage and stun one with a ray gun at one point. There's some brief peril and a few moments during which a main character's safety is in question, all with predictably happy results.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Brady and McKenzie are an item throughout the story, but their physical contact is limited to hugging and a couple of near-kisses. Other teen relationships develop as the story unfolds, all with similarly innocent expressions of affection.
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Products & Purchases
The Teen Beach Movie’s marketing machine churns out products like apparel, accessories, and home decor; a soundtrack featuring the movie's 12 songs is available on iTunes and in stores; Radio Disney events around the country distribute promotional items bearing the movie's name and the stars' images; and other promotions are linked to One Direction and R5 (Ross Lynch's band) concerts.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that, like High School Musical before it, Teen Beach Movie is a marketing conglomerate designed to sell not just the movie, but also the extensive line of clothing, home decor, accessories, and, of course, a soundtrack associated with it. Tweens will flock to this highly promoted movie, thanks in part to their familiarity with stars like Ross Lynch, who hail from other Disney projects, and they won't be disappointed in the story's entertaining blend of nostalgia, comedy, and sweet teen romance. For their part, parents will be pleased with the movie's worry-free family friendly story that also sends wholesome messages about individuality, self-awareness, and positive relationships. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
TEEN BEACH MOVIE does more than pay homage to beach-party classics; it re-creates one into which it can drop modern-day characters and watch the fun begin. And begin it does, thanks to crafty writing and charismatic stars who light up the screen from the get-go. It's hard to pick a favorite between Brady's childish glee over partaking in his beloved movie plot and McKenzie's comical exploitations of classic movie cliches. The push-and-pull between the two is a delightful dynamic, setting the tone for other fantastic character interplays and some entertaining -– if predictably sanitized -– turns of events. Add to that a couple of bumbling villains with an ill-fated evil plot, and toe-tapping musical numbers aplenty, and you've got a story guaranteed to delight.
There's no doubt Disney knows how to design a quality product, but Teen Beach Movie also illustrates how adept the company is at marketing those products. Reassigning established stars ensures a pool of existing fans; tying the brand name to everything from bedding to lunch boxes promises it stays in the public eye; and linking it to a soundtrack of brand-new songs yields multiple platforms on which today's tweens can make it part of their vernacular. Happily, though, this is the only concern in an otherwise delightful offering for tweens, and it doesn't waste the opportunity to promote some great messages about listening to your heart, respecting others, and being true to your individuality.
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.