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The Last Day of Summer
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this made-for-TV tween movie addresses many of the fears/issues typical of the age group: relating to the opposite sex, learning to deal with bullies, and worrying that a move to a new school will affect existing friendships. The main character discovers that it's only by facing his fears head-on that he can move past them and welcome the changes ahead. There's little here to worry parents of tweens, but they may want to remind kids that mean-spirited pranks (overturning an outhouse while a notorious bully is inside, for instance) aren't the best way to handle difficulties with peers.
What's the story?
For Luke Malloy (Jansen Panettiere, younger brother of Heroes cheerleader Hayden), the start of this particular school year is more than just an end to the fun and freedom of summer. It's the beginning of a whole new list of dreads -- all because he's going to be starting middle school. Based on what he's heard from middle-school veterans -- like big sister Diana (Alexandra Krosney) -- the transition is pretty much a life-or-death battle. At the town carnival on Labor Day (the last day of summer), anxiety-ridden Luke longingly wishes the day would never end. Moments later, a blow to the head knocks him out cold; when he wakes up, it's the morning of Labor Day again. As the day repeats itself over and over, Luke -- like a tweenage version of Bill Murray's character in Groundhog Day -- discovers that he has the power to change its outcome, and he slowly finds ways to conquer his fears: bullies; his secret crush, Alice (Denyse Tontz), and even performing onstage with his buddies in their band, The Steel Monkey. Along the way, he also gets a lesson in the power of friendship and the importance of being honest with yourself and listening to your heart.
Is it any good?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about facing the challenge of a new school. Tweens: How does the idea of starting a new school make you feel? What kinds of worries would you have about it? Do you think this movie gives a good impression of what kids might be afraid of about going to a new school? How? Have you experienced any of the anxiety that Luke does? How did you handle it? Can your friends help? Why is it important to face your fears head on?
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