Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century

Movie review by
Tracey Petherick, Common Sense Media
Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century Movie Poster Image
Tween sci-fi adventure has TV vibes but plenty of positives.
  • NR
  • 1999
  • 97 minutes

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

Educational Value

The movie is intended to entertain rather than educate, but there are regular references to scientific concepts that could spark interest and discussion -- gravity, solar energy, hydroponics. 

Positive Messages

The main takeaway is the value of embracing new experiences, having an open mind, and being brave enough to take risks. Also the importance of accepting people who are different to you. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Zenon is cheerful, brave, articulate, and confident. Although this is what gets her into trouble, it also helps her triumph in the end. She has a loving family and good friends who support each other and work as a team to defeat the villains. Mr Wyndham pretends to be a good guy but becomes more intimidating and then threatening.

Violence & Scariness

Brief moment of peril when a character discovers a space station is about to explode -- with their parents and friends still on it. The main villain displays threatening behavior.

Sexy Stuff
Language

No swearing but two instances of "shut up."

Consumerism

Volkswagen Beetle cars feature heavily in the movie, albeit they are driverless versions.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century is an entertaining made-for-TV Disney adventure with plenty of positive messages and a strong female lead. It is suitable for all ages but will appeal most to tweens since younger viewers might not follow the futuristic storyline -- and associated gags. Zenon (Kirsten Storms) is a positive role model, who is courageous, confident, and understands the importance of family, friendship, and teamwork. There is some tension and minor peril in the form of mildly sinister baddies and a short-lived risk of death and destruction -- including to Zenon's parents. Older kids might snigger at the dated special effects and the way 2049 is depicted -- some of the "futuristic" technology feels a tad clunky. Otherwise this is all about the fun factor with positive messages including the value of new experiences, embracing people's differences, and having the courage of your convictions.

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What's the story?

ZENON: GIRL OF THE 21ST CENTURY tells the story of Zenon (Kirsten Storms), a 13-year-old girl living on a space station orbiting the Earth in 2049. Spirited, fun-loving, and just a little bit rebellious she is no stranger to mischief. But when one of her antics goes too far her parents decide she must be grounded -- literally. They banish her to Earth to live with her mild-mannered Aunt Judy (Holly Fulger), but not before Zenon has noticed the space station's owner behaving suspiciously. As she adapts to the strange ways of life on Earth, Zenon and her new-found friends uncover an evil plan to destroy the space station and must work together to thwart the villains.

Is it any good?

There's no surprise that this 1999 Disney yarn was made for TV, but despite its lack of sophistication it's full of energy with feisty characters and flamboyant settings. It also has plenty of entertaining ideas about what life could be like in 2049. While teenagers don't seem to have changed -- there's lots of sassy chat, garish clothes, romantic angst, and squealing over pop stars -- Zenon and her friends do have moments of maturity, and the sufficiently complex storyline gives viewers something to get their teeth into. 

But despite solid messages around having confidence, learning to fit in, and stepping out of your comfort zone, Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century is largely just a lot of fluff and fun. Having said that, there are some amusing predictions for the future -- will Chelsea Clinton actually become President? And why is everyone still driving Volkswagen Beetles?

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about some of the positive messages from Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century. Discuss the value of embracing new experiences and the challenges of fitting in when you feel like an outsider. Can you give any examples from your own life?

  • Is Zenon a good role model for young teens? She's feisty and confident but also rebellious. Does she strike the right balance? What other character strengths does she have and why are these good traits to have?

  • Talk about how much technology has changed since the movie was made in 1999. Some of the "futuristic" tech in the movie -- like tablets and video calling -- are part of normal life now. What do you think life will be like in 2049?

Movie details

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