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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
A mixed bag. Popularity is achieved through bullying and coercion, and image is everything to the school's social queens, who are treat their classmates with disdain. But they learn that their actions have consequences and start to seek out healthy friendships rather than status relationships when they realize how superficial the social system is. Harsh stereotyping of high-school castes is inevitable, but it underscores the characters' change of heart when it happens. Teens email embarrassing photos of a classmate to the student body.
Positive Role Models
The socialites are terrible role models, and Lisa isn't much better when she succumbs to the popularity bug. But fortunately, most of them learn their lesson in the end, and they influence their peers in a positive way.
Violence & Scariness
A couple of instances of electrocution result in teens' deaths, but there's nothing graphic about the content, which is played for humor. There's some suspense over the fate of Amber's soul when it seems she's headed toward the fiery pits of the afterlife.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Teens talk about planning to have sex, and in two cases, girls manipulate boys with the promise of sex at the night's end. A make-out scene gets hot and heavy with kissing and some fondling, and couples kiss in school and at parties. Teens refer to each other as "hot" and pass compliments like "nice butt," and most relationships are based on physical attraction. Girls dress in revealing clothes and act provocatively to attract guys.
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Multiple variations of "bitch," "hell," "damn," and "frickin'."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A teen mentions asking an adult to buy beer for a party she's throwing.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this comedy has some worthwhile things to say about issues like popularity and bullying among teens, but viewers have to sit through a lot of unsavory behavior by a clique of mean girls before these themes become obvious. Teens cope with personal insecurities and social pressures, and stereotypes ("geeks," "jocks," "in crowd") are rampant throughout the story. Girls use their sexuality to hook and manipulate guys (promising sex to maintain their interest, for instance); physical contact includes a steamy make-out scene with kissing and some upper-body fondling. There's a fair amount of salty language ("bitch," "hell," "damn"), and bullying takes both traditional forms -- like intimidation -- and cyber translations, like emailing compromising pictures to embarrass someone. That said, the movie's messages are overwhelmingly positive, reminding teens of the power of self-confidence, individuality, and standing up against peer pressure. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This enjoyable comedy delivers a worthwhile story about overcoming insecurities and battling peer pressure. Popularity and social ambition are hardly new plot points for a teen-geared movie, and TEEN SPIRIT's themes of tolerance, respect, and self-confidence won't come as a surprise to anyone who tunes in. In fact, there are few surprises to be found in this movie -- but, happily, that doesn't stand in the way of its positive message. Amber and Lisa are a delightful odd couple, and their unlikely relationship puts both girls in a position to learn something positive about friendship and respect. Their actions aren't always saintly, but the good news is that they learn their lesson, change their behavior, and use the experience to inspire others to do the same.
Of course, a story like this isn't believable without some stereotypes like "jocks" and "geeks," but teens will understand the role that these types play in illustrating behavior within the different student groups. Sexuality is prominent as it relates to popularity (girls flaunt their bodies to turn guys' heads) and as it's used to maintain a guy's interest, and there's some passionate kissing and fondling in a scene or two. All of this paints a fairly extreme picture of high school life for tweens, but teens will be able to weed through the fantasy, enjoy the humor, and pick out the positive aspects of this very funny 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.