A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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."
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?
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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.