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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
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?
- On DVD or streaming: January 23, 1999
- Cast: Kirsten Storms, Raven-Symone, Bob Bancroft
- Director: Kenneth Johnson
- Studio: Disney Channel Original Movies
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Great Girl Role Models, Space and Aliens
- Character strengths: Courage, Empathy, Teamwork
- Run time: 97 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: June 25, 2020
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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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