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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that kids who are fans of Disney's Austin & Ally will want to tune in for Laura Marano's enjoyable comedy Bad Hair Day, which also stars Good Luck Charlie alum Leigh-Allyn Baker. The story is nicely suited to family viewing (although teens may find its implausibility a little goofy), and it offers excellent messages about self-confidence, individuality, and resisting peer pressure. The content is predictably squeaky-clean Disney fare, save for a brief scene showing a man tied up and an emotional subplot about a girl's absentee mom. Expect a lot of ridiculous (and hilarious) scenarios, a few tense moments as the heroines are pursued by a criminal, and plenty of feel-good moments at the hands of quality adult role models. If you're looking for something you and your kids can enjoy together, this one is worth a try.
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What's the story?
In BAD HAIR DAY, teen tech wiz Monica (Laura Marano) has everything going for her, from her popular boyfriend to her recent acceptance to her dream college. Even better, her self-designed online poll shows she's a lock for prom queen, which will be the crowning jewel in her high school career. But when Monica awakens on prom day with the world's worst case of bad hair, a melted dress, and a last-minute nail-biter in the prom queen race, it seems things couldn't get any worse ... until an unorthodox ex-police officer named Liz (Leigh-Allyn Baker) shows up on her doorstep looking for a stolen necklace Monica unwittingly bought for the occasion. In desperation, Monica promises to return the necklace if Liz will help her tie up loose ends before the dance, but with a crafty jewel thief named Pierce (Christian Campbell) hot on their trail, things just got a lot more complicated.
Is it any good?
This TV movie is trivial and silly, but that pales in comparison to how much fun it is. Marano is a delight in the role of frantic Monica of the compounding crises and brittle hair, forever fretting over whether she's making the right decisions when she dares to do so without her peers' input. Baker matches her at every turn with varying degrees of dismay over the life and times of adolescence, from ridiculous fashion trends to innumerable apps that seem to dictate their moves. Bad Hair Day is an unusual buddy comedy, given the age gap between the teen and the grown-up, but it offers something for both kids and parents and facilitates a heartwarming mentor relationship that does both parties a lot of good.
Central to the story is a bold reminder of the value of listening to your heart and being true to yourself, even when it stands contrary to what the rest of the pack is doing. Monica learns this lesson the hard way, but she's flanked by supporting adults who empower her to find strength within herself. It's hardly a new theme for a Disney movie, but it's one that bears repeating and will resonate with kids and tweens in particular. What's more, the fact that the story relates social media to the concept invites discussions with your kids about Internet safety and cyberbullying as well as peer pressure.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what Bad Hair Day has to say about following your heart. Why is it more important to do what you think is right than it is to follow a crowd? Is it scary to stand up against others' expectations?
Liz turns out to be a great role model for Monica, but in what ways does Monica influence Liz for the better? Can you think of some times when it's better to be part of a team than it is to be alone? What can we learn from mistakes our role models make?
Talk to your kids about the ups and downs of social media. What apps or sites do your kids use to share information? Does what you see on these sites paint an accurate picture of other people's lives? What kinds of content are appropriate (and what's not) for sharing online?
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