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 Outcasts is a teen comedy about two smart, academically inclined best friends who are sick of being targeted by their high school's top "mean girl". There's some suggestive content (making out, a shot of a guy who pees in a fern in front of teen party-goers), occasional strong language (including "s--t," "a--hole," and more), and underage drinking/partying, sometimes to excess. But the movie also has clear messages about friendship and encourages teens to look past superficial differences. The movie stars an ensemble of familiar young TV actors who will appeal to fans of their shows (Victorious, The Middle, Hart of Dixie, Awkward., etc.).
What's the story?
THE OUTCASTS follows two best friends -- music geek Jodi (Victoria Justice) and science nerd Mindy (Eden Sher) -- who are finally ready, in their senior year, to branch out and attend a party hosted by the popular crowd. But during the party, queen bee Whitney (Claudia Lee) plays an awful prank on Jodi, and Mindy vows to get revenge. Her MO? To band together the various cliques of "outcasts" in the social order. With the help of school debate champ Virginia's (Ashley Rickards) meticulous files on seemingly everyone in the school, the girls reach out to leaders of the techies, sci-fi lovers, fantasy cosplayers, Girl Scouts, LGBT kids, band/theater types, etc. to form a coalition to usurp the "cool kids" from their top spot in the high-school social order. But then Jodi begins to worry that Mindy is taking vengeance too far and finds herself attracted to Dave (Avan Jogia), one of the guys formerly in Whitney's circle.
Is it any good?
The cast of charming veteran teen TV stars elevate this amusing, if derivative, entry in the "revenge of the nerds" subgenre of high school comedies about upending the social order. Sher is an expert at playing a geeky high schooler thanks to her years on The Middle, and Justice shows her range by trying on the role of a band geek with aspirations of becoming a singer-songwriter. Although mostly a comedy about the revenge-themed mission that MIT-obsessed Mindy launches against Whitney and her squad, The Outcasts is also a friendship drama about BFFs who must learn how to navigate their impending post-graduation separation. That particular aspect really resonates as authentic.
Of course, the Revenge of the Nerds-inspired part isn't without its entertaining humor. The way that the various geek groups band together is quite funny, particularly because Virginia has such thorough files on each "leader." The way the girls know how to poke through the armor and egos of all their potential allies is amusing, if cliched (there are plenty of "nerdy" teens who have no trouble finding dates). A highlight of the silliness is when precocious scientist Mindy unleashes a truth serum-like gas in public, and everyone starts blurting out confessional truths. While The Outcasts may not become a teen classic, it's diverting enough to rent/stream/watch with fans of the talented cast.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the depiction of pranking and bullying in The Outcasts. Is it realistic? Is there a difference between being pranked and being bullied? What are some ways to deal with bullying in real life?
Teens: Do you think the movie is realistic in its depiction of high-school cliques? How is social class established/reinforced among your own peers? Did you notice any stereotypes in the movie?
Parents: This comedy has been compared to Revenge of the Nerds. How do you think it stacks up against that '80s classic? Is this one more appropriate for teen viewers?
- In theaters: April 14, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: May 16, 2017
- Cast: Victoria Justice, Eden Sher, Ashley Rickards
- Director: Peter Hutchings
- Studio: Swen Group
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Friendship, High school
- Run time: 95 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: crude and suggestive content, language and some teen partying
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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.