A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Video Game High School is a quirky movie centered on gaming with some realistic video game violence and real-life bullying. The action of the war games the students play is conveyed through real-time action; characters are shown firing machine guns and assault rifles in battlefield scenes, with "soldiers" often shown getting shot in the head. These aspects of the film make it best for teens and older, and will be enjoyed especially by gamers who have seen the popular web series on YouTube.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Brian (Josh Blaylock) is a below-average gamer in a society where video gaming is the most popular sport on the planet. Through a remarkable twist of fate, Brian defeats gaming champion "The Law," and is offered admission to the elite VIDEO GAME HIGH SCHOOL. He enters the school ranked at the bottom of his class, and things don't get better for him as he encounters intense competition from fellow students, screaming administrators, and angry instructors. Oh, and there's "The Law," who rules the school as Varsity Captain and will stop at nothing to make Brian's life at VGHS as unpleasant as possible. Brian makes friends with fellow misfits Ted and Ki (Ellary Porterfield), and even initiates a romance with Junior Varsity Captain Jenny Matrix, but with "The Law" watching his every move, Brian must prove that he deserves to be at Video Game High School, and that his initial victory was no mere fluke.
Is it any good?
For teenage gamers and fans of the popular web series, Video Game High School is a quirky and action-packed story. It both celebrates gaming culture and parodies the cliques and competition of high school life, while finding room for a tiny amount of sweetness in the form of the budding romance that develops between Brian D and Jenny Matrix.
However, families wary of gun violence and school bullying will be uncomfortable with the regularity in which the two are shown in this movie. While it's technically "video game violence," the characters are placed in real-enough looking situations where they fire assault weapons at each other, hoping to score the maximum number of points by shooting their rivals in the head. The movie also treats bullying as simply a matter of course in high school rather than something that should be stopped. The quirky style of the movie makes it impossible to address these issues in meaningful ways, and so the violence and bullying leaves a bad taste in an otherwise exciting movie.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can discuss how the Video Game High School web series has set fundraising records on Kickstarter, and has reached millions of viewers in ways that would have been impossible several years ago. How does Freddie Wong and the other producers of VGHS use the tools of the internet to find their audiences and fund their projects?
For parents and teens who want to write, play music, or make movies, how might the example of the VGHS producers inspire you to use the internet to showcase and promote your work, and find worldwide audiences?
How realistic is the behavior of these high school students and school staff?
- On DVD or streaming: May 11, 2012
- Cast: Ellary Porterfield, Johanna Braddy, Josh Blaylock
- Directors: Brandon Laatsch, Freddie Wong, Matthew Arnold
- Studio: Vivendi
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: High School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 124 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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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.
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