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 TV movie is about a (fictional) 17-year-old actress who's a recovering alcoholic, so there's lots of mention of drunken irresponsibility, some scenes of teen drinking, and many times when a teen longs to drink to help ease stress. Rather than using the main character's situation to take a serious look at the issue, the story glosses over the painful effects of alcoholism and oversimplifies the recovery process. While the movie does attempt to promote messages about self-reliance and following your heart, and teens may relate to the peer and family struggles the main character faces, even that part of things is muddled by some strong language and all of the alcohol references.
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What's the story?
When teen star Morgan Carter (JoJo Levesque) collapses at the premiere of her new movie from alcohol poisoning, the Hollywood rumor mill starts eating away at her pristine image. Worried that she'll party her way to a dead-end career, her mom (Lynda Boyd) and manager (Justin Louis) ship her off to the Midwest to live incognito with Aunt Trudy (Valerie Bertinelli), a quirky family friend whose no-nonsense ways are a rude awakening for the spoiled star. But as she slips into the anonymity that her new identity allows her, Morgan discovers that life as an average high school student can be just as challenging -- and in many ways more rewarding -- as is life in the Hollywood glare.
Is it any good?
The movie's Lifetime slot is somewhat odd, making it unlikely to draw the film's target teen audience, and the story is a bit too juvenile and predictable for Lifetime's more seasoned viewers. But perhaps it will provide common ground for teen girls and their parents to watch together and discuss the topics it addresses. So if you tune in with your teens, don't miss the chance to follow up with a chat about responsible behavior, the real-life consequences of drinking, and tactics for standing up to peer pressure.
At first glance, the movie (which is based on the same-named book by Lola Douglas) seems like an amusing, feel-good tale about being true to yourself and taking responsibility for your life. And in many ways, it's a timely topic in this age of real-life teen stars behaving badly. (Maybe some of them would be well served by small-town life...) But unfortunately it deals very lightly with the weighty topic of underage drinking. At 17, Morgan is a recovering alcoholic who's been through rehab but still feels invincible, and she often muses during stressful times that she wishes she hadn't given up drinking. She also suffers a relapse in which she downs a bottle of vodka during an emotional low -- and her only repercussion is a brief hangover.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the consequences of drinking. Point out to your kids all of the places that they see drinking -- ads, movies, TV shows, celebrity news. Tell them that these appearances are all designed to get them to drink. Let them know what's at stake -- that the age many kids say they first try alcohol is 12.8 and that 47 percent of kids who start drinking before age 14 become alcoholics within 10 years. Families can also discuss how the media portrays the stars' lifestyle. Is it just about the fancy clothes and glitzy homes, or is there more to the picture? What added pressures would fame (and lack of privacy) bring? Do you think a disproportionate number of stars turn to substances like alcohol and drugs to relieve stress, or does it just seem that way because of the media's obsession with their behavior?
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