A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
A brief and rudimentary introduction to marine biology and eco-systems. Teen character reading Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea might spark interest. Character who has been dragged underwater is given life-saving CPR.
Strong family values are demonstrated throughout, as is the value of friendship, loyalty, being open-minded, and accepting people who are different to you. The importance of trying your best at school comes through, as does an awareness that popular, sporty kids aren't necessarily the best role models.
Positive Role Models
Cody is cheerful and enthusiastic. As one of the "popular" kids, he can be cheeky in class and dismissive of his less popular peers. But overall he shows compassion and an appreciation of what's right. Jess is presented as a typical "nerd," but has self-confidence and a natural charm. He also demonstrates initiative and loyalty. Sean is exposed as arrogant and judgmental, referring to Jess as "not like us." Cody's adoptive parents are positive, supportive, and loving.
Very little diversity among cast and characters. A main character lives in a loving home with their adoptive parents.
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Violence & Scariness
Pushing and shoving between teens at school. Perilous moment when someone is pulled under water and falls unconscious. They are rescued and given CPR, which revives them.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Gentle flirting between teens. Brief kisses, handholding.
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Some teasing and name-calling between adult and teen characters. Language includes "loser," "screw up," "pathetic," and "jerk."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Thirteenth Year is a lighthearted coming-of-age family Disney TV movie that gently touches on first love and puberty. When Cody Griffin (Chez Starbuck) turns 13, he suddenly begins growing thins and scales, which leads him to discover that his birth mother is in fact a mermaid. Positive themes include the value of family and friendship and the importance of accepting people who are different to you. There is some teasing and low-level name-calling -- such as "loser" and "jerk" -- as well as mildly judgmental behavior from teens and adults. But overall the tone is upbeat and optimistic. The message that being sporty and popular doesn't make you any better than more academically-focused kids runs throughout. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Although this coming-of-age comedy fails to make a big splash, it does provide some amusing pre-teen entertainment and an insight into the politics of school friendships. As with most Disney Channel Original Movies of the late 1990s, The Thirteenth Year's young actors turn in solid performances, ably supported by the enthusiastic adult cast.
There are some peculiar plot points -- not least that a mermaid would think it wise to leave her newborn baby on a boat with a couple of humans. But the essence of the story -- a coming-of-age tale in which teenagers navigate school, parents, and relationships -- is well told. With a little bit of jeopardy, some social observation, and a few laughs, this is a perfectly acceptable family comedy in the made-for-TV mold.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.