A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The A-List is a teen comedy about a misguided school guidance counselor who tries to vicariously live her teen dreams through one of her students. This raunchy movie tries to make a statement about the fleeting nature of popularity but undermines its own message with questionable behavior from kids and adults alike, lots of swearing (including "f--k"), and some weird sexual jokes. The high school principal tries to get in with the cool kids by making off-color, inappropriate statements (such as "don't get high, unless it's with me"), and the soccer coach repeatedly swears at the kids and drinks from a flask. Two boys go on a date, and the movie tries to suggest that it's OK to be gay (after the jock claims "we're bros, not homos"), but it fails when the popular kid explains it was all for a homework assignment, the status quo is restored, and any kids actually struggling with coming to terms with their sexuality have to go back into hiding. The worst is the guidance counselor who (SPOILER ALERT) is eventually fired for blackmailing her student but who forges his transcript anyway with no consequences and still ends up with her high school crush. The underlying message is that you're not really happy until the cool kids like you and that if you're popular you can get away with whatever you want, even if the movie tries to suggest otherwise with some trite plot points.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Eric Schultz (Hudson Thames) is one of the coolest kids in his high school. In fact, he's usually in the top five on the "A-list," the constantly updated record of the most popular kids in school. But when he learns he's missing one credit needed to graduate, he finds himself at the whim of the nerdy school guidance counselor, Sylvia Martin (Elizabeth Bond), who's determined to live out her high school fantasies. Forced to complete the top five things she regrets not doing in high school in exchange for a forged transcript, Eric finds his popularity status plummeting as he has to take out the star athlete on a date, try out for the cheerleading squad, and other humiliating situations. Will Eric fulfill his end of the bargain so he can graduate? Or will Sylvia finally realize that being popular isn't all it's cracked up to be?
Is it any good?
Watching THE A-LIST, it's sometimes hard to believe you're not watching a sequel to Not Another Teen Movie; it's even harder to figure out the point. Are they trying to satirize the common clichés found in teen movies? Show the meaninglessness of selfie culture and that focusing on popularity leads to a life of unhappiness? Unfortunately, the movie fails on all counts. It's obvious that the story is trying to make many points, albeit in an over-the-top, raunchy way, about the pitfalls of popularity, but it manages to completely undermine almost every one. Although the meanest mean girl of the group gets her comeuppance, the majority of the characters don't really learn much, and they're really only happy because everyone likes them again in the end.
If the movie was truly funny or clever in other ways, you could maybe roll your eyes about the message and enjoy it for a few laughs. But, unfortunately, the humor is so weird that it's mostly uncomfortable, not witty. With so many other teen movies that actually make sense while being funny (think Easy A), this is one you and your teens can safely skip.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about popularity. The A-List is obviously an exaggerated way to portray the high school social hierarchy, but do you think it's that far-fetched? Do you think popularity is as important to real high school kids as it is in the movie?
Do you think Sylvia did the right thing by forging Eric's transcripts? Why, or why not? What are the real-life consequences of doing something like this?
Is the school portrayed in the movie like your school? How is it different? How is it the same?
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