This Is the Year

Movie review by
Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media
This Is the Year Movie Poster Image
Tween-friendly romcom rights the wrongs of '80s teen films.
  • NR
  • 2021
  • 96 minutes

Parents say

age 2+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

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.

A lot or a little?

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

Stands out for positive messages.

Positive Messages

Primary message is clear and expressed in a few different ways: Life is better than a movie. Also, don't place your faith in something that's not real; put it in something that is. What you've been looking for, you might already have.

Positive Role Models

The characters are good kids; they're not without their flaws, but they show how friends support each other. Gender roles in a romance are drawn from stereotype.

Diverse Representations

Virtually no diversity within the cast/characters. The one character of color is an influential food truck owner.


Pushing and shoving. It's implied that an animal is hit by a car, but there's no visual.


The plot is about romance. One high schooler lives with her older boyfriend. One climactic kiss. Lots of talk of "hookups," but no explanation of what that actually means. Stereotypical romantic roles, with boy acting as pursuer.


Language includes "hell," "(you're) screwed," "smart ass," and "sucks." 


Cinammon Toast Crunch is shown prominently in a scene and may be product placement. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

High school seniors attend a party where alcohol is served, but it's unclear what's in their red cups (they don't behave like they're drinking). A character who is over 21 gets drunk, with consequences.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that This Is the Year is a romcom that echoes the structure of a 1980s teen film but is much more tween-friendly. Executive-produced by Selena Gomez and written and directed by her Wizards of Waverly Place co-star David Henrie, it features young actors associated with various Disney Channel/ABC series. Gen Zers will likely get a kick out of seeing them gathered here, and older adults will enjoy hunting for Easter eggs referencing '80s classics. For tweens, meanwhile, it's an entertaining story about trying to get your crush to like you. While the films the movie is inspired by are beloved, they're also problematic: Henrie makes a point to address those issues (except for the fact that the cast is nearly all White), and the result is far more appropriate for younger audiences, with a clearly positive message. Yes, there's lots of angst and hope for romance, but talk about "hookups" is just that: talk. The only "action" is one big kiss. "Smart ass" and "hell" is as salty as the language gets, and violence is limited to a brief scuffle. The high school-aged characters attend a party, but only the one who's over 21 seems to be drinking alcohol; he gets drunk, and it's shown to negatively impact his judgment.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJoelMcFilm September 30, 2021


Safe for the whole family! A true nod to the bodacious 80's movies we all learned to love, THIS IS THE YEAR brings an often told story to life on screen wi... Continue reading

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

On the first day of senior year, Josh (Lorenzo James Henrie) realizes that Zoey (Alyssa Jirrels), the girl who bit him in grade school, is now the woman of his dreams. But as gradution approaches, he still hasn't made his move -- and Zoey has a boyfriend. Deciding THIS IS THE YEAR, Josh hatches a plan to road-trip with Zoey and his best friends, Molly (Vanessa Marano) and Mikey (Jake Short), to attend a music festival. Only problem? He doesn't actually have tickets. The film was executive-produced by Selena Gomez and written and directed by her Wizards of Waverly Place co-star David Henrie.

Is it any good?

Gomez and Henrie's Disney Channel roots are showing: They've created a teen romantic comedy inspired by '80s films that's actually family-friendly. Movies send messages, and in the 1980s, some of those were (perhaps unintentionally) negative, especially when it came to dating. With This Is the Year, Henrie gets in front of that influential train to create a forward-thinking throwback to help today's kids understand that, yes, films are fun, but there's much more to life than what we see on the screen. Josh starts out like a lot of kids: catching an "old" movie (because the '80s are old now) and getting caught up in the high school world it presents, where the coolest people in school are also the most beautiful and athletic and always say the right thing. He and his nextdoor neighbor, Molly, grow up obsessed with this movie and have based their own romantic expectations off of it. When both lay their eyes on people who look similar to the characters they've spent so much time thinking about, they're sure that these are the true loves who've been waiting for them their whole life. You can probably guess how the film ends, and that's OK -- that's really the point. 

Henrie intentionally follows the path of many an '80s teen film, and lovers of that era's back catalog will be giddy spotting all of the references. For instance, Josh has to write an essay for graduation that's very similar to the assignment given to a certain group stuck in all-day detention. But Henrie's screenplay also reflects the elements of life that today's kids love and loathe, including music festivals, food trucks, and self-important artists. Henrie makes a strong writing and directing feature debut and shows an ability to appreciate the past and blend it with modern attitudes to create multigenerational entertainment. Many years may have passed since their series went off the air, but, as a filmmaking team, he and Gomez show they still have the power to turn mischief into magic.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how movies can influence our expectations and actions without our realizing it. What do you think This Is the Year is trying to tell viewers?

  • Which references to 1980s teen films did you spot? Why do you think fans of franchises or genres love it when there's a reference to previous films?

  • One big difference between 1980s movies and this one is the lack of profanity. Why do you think screenwriters often include strong language in teen films?

  • Did you notice the cast's lack of diversity? Why is it important to see a wide range of representation in the media?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love '80s teen comedies

Themes & Topics

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