The Circuit

Movie review by
Anne Louise Bannon, Common Sense Media
The Circuit Movie Poster Image
Car racing drama is too steamy for young kids.
  • NR
  • 2010
  • 89 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Although there's a positive message about girls being just as good as boys, there's also some clear sexual harassment -- which Kylie deals with by "pantsing" the offender.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Kylie is presented as a strong female character, although she certainly isn't infallible, and she indulges in some iffy behavior during the movie.

Violence

Some arm-punching and shoving, but nothing vindictive. There are also a couple of car crash scenes, but no one is actually hurt.

Sex

While nobody is ever totally naked, there are several fairly steamy scenes in which the main characters are partially dressed while in bed and on top of each other.

Language

Language includes "son of a bitch," "screw" (as in "screw your rules"), and "boobs."

Consumerism

Commercial sponsorship is a big part of the plot. But beyond a few fuzzy car logos (BMW, etc.) -- there's little actual product placement.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A fair amount of beer and wine drinking throughout, as well as a lot of whisky being poured and one shot of a race announcer drinking from a fifth bottle in between comments on the action. In one scene, Kylie appears to be tipsy after drinking wine.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that although kids may be drawn to this movie by star Michelle Trachtenberg (who's been in both family-friendly films like Ice Princess and racier fare like Gossip Girl), it's not really age-appropriate for younger members of the family. There's no outright nudity, but several scenes depict the sexual relationship between the two main characters, showing them in bed and on top of each other, partially dressed. There's also some drinking, car crashes (no one is injured), arm-punching and slapping, and language like "son of a bitch," "boobs," and "screw your rules."

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Teen, 13 years old Written bytagman28 April 9, 2008

What's the story?

Just as Kylie Shines (Michelle Trachtenberg) -- daughter of legendary driver Al Shines (Bill Campbell) -- is moving up in the stock car circuit, her estranged father's career is falling apart faster than a car hitting a wall. When team owner Robin Cates (Paul Rae) decides it's time to cut Al loose, he takes Kylie on ... but only as a ploy to generate some heat for Cates' new darling, Kid Walker (Drew Fuller), via a trumped-up romance. Can Kylie prove that she's more than just a marketing ploy?

Is it any good?

You can't really call THE CIRCUIT bad. On the downside, it does what it does predictably, with a minimum of real suspense. But Trachtenberg, Campbell, and Fuller are all reasonably likeable, and there aren't too many plot holes. If it weren't for some of the characters' more adult behaviors, it would be a pleasant way to spend a couple hours with the kids.

And that may be where the whole thing falls apart -- nothing is as edgy as the real world of stock car racing, but the movie isn't light enough to make the fantasy real. There's no sense of danger, in spite of the fact that auto racing is exceedingly dangerous; even the crash scenes don't have much impact. And the one instance of sexual harassment is laughable. It's as though these scenes -- and the steamy encounters between Kylie and Kid -- were added to give an edge to a story that simply didn't need it.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the role that advertising plays in the movie -- and in auto racing, in general. Do you think that seeing the logos on successful drivers actually helps sell the products? In a movie like this one, do you think filmmakers have to include logos and products to seem realistic?

  • How is Kylie manipulated for publicity purposes by the team's owner? How could she have handled the situation better?

Movie details

For kids who love sports

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