A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
Stands out for positive messages.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
- In theaters: September 24, 2021
- On DVD or streaming: September 24, 2021
- Cast: Lorenzo James Henrie, Vanessa Marano, Alyssa Jirrels
- Director: David Henrie
- Studio: Vertical Entertainment
- Genre: Romance
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, High School
- Run time: 96 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: October 5, 2021
Our editors recommend
For kids who love '80s teen comedies
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
Top advice and articles
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.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch