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 movie focuses on high school-aged boys engaged in illegal activities (stealing cars, in order to support a drug ring). They also drink, smoke, disrespect their teachers, and talk about sex (using slang referring to Viagra, erections, and sexually transmitted disease). The film also features mild images of action-movie violence: car/bicycle chases, fights, rough competition on the basketball court, and shoot-outs (including the use of a nail gun as a weapon). These rebellious students, adult villains, and some hardnosed cops lie to, betray, and disparage other characters. Women occasionally wear scant clothing, including one girl who sunbathes topless (she covers her chest with her arms). Some fart, bowel movement, and puke jokes.
What's the story?
Tre (Nick Cannon) is a young L.A. cop who wants to live up to his much-respected cop father's legacy. Reassigned to go undercover in a preppy L.A. high school where a student has died suspiciously, Tre maneuveres himself near the cool-kids-on-campus clique. As he angles to inside this group, he learns that said cool kids are stealing cars to support a drug trade for their shadowy adult boss-man. To fit in, Tre plays the "black kid" cliché, a slacker student with decent basketball skills, apparently passing well enough to fool students and faculty. Tre is assisted in this case by two other detectives, Brooks (Kelly Hu) and Gallecki (Ian Gomez).
Is it any good?
An unoriginal action comedy, UNDERCLASSMAN has little to recommend it save young Nick Cannon's charisma. But even his considerable energy -- on display most recently in his summer hit MTV show, Wildin' Out -- can't keep the movie afloat. As Tre, Cannon is sometimes charming and mostly obnoxious. Tre's adventures include repeated run-ins with the captain, the headmaster (Hugh Bonneville), and his alpha-boy classmates. Tediously, he always brings the gaudy "urban" patter but never has much to say.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Tre's desire to live up to his father's legacy as an L.A. cop. How does this put pressure on his own ambitions as a cop? When Tre goes undercover as a high school student, how does his flirtation with his teacher lead to questions about propriety (hers as well as his)? How does his relationship with his captain lead to tension (over material objects, like cars and property)? What might Tre do to change his status in the department, short of sneaking out without his captain's permission? That is, how does his misbehavior mirror that of the criminal kids he's supposed to arrest?
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