Mr. Box Office

 
Lackluster sitcom has likable messages at heart.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The story puts a rosy spin on a (fictional) celebrity's public-image woes and subsequent second chance at being a positive role model. Although the plot is unlikely at best, the overall message is that it's never too late to do a good deed, and there might be surprising satisfaction in it, regardless of who you are. On the downside, the show makes light of issues like adults drunk on the job and other illegal activity.
 

Positive role models

Marcus turns a personal setback into an opportunity to make a difference in other people's lives. He uses his experiences to inspire his students to work hard and fulfill their potential, even when his popularity suffers because of it. Other characters are less idyllic, including a principal who hates his job and barely tolerates the students, a teacher who flirts with her coworkers in front of students, and an agent whose only goal is to get his client back into the limelight. A few stereotypes exist (moochy friends from the 'hood, a conniving agent, and lazy teens, for example).

Violence
Not applicable
Sex

Lots of flirting among single adults and subtle references to their desire for sex. (A man invites a woman to take a nap in his room with his help, for instance.) Joking implications of infidelity. A female teacher dresses in low-cut tops and tight skirts to draw looks and often pursues younger men.
 

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

There are references to drinking and taking prescription drugs, but nothing is visible.
 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Mr. Box Office centers on a fictional celebrity who, after a brush with the law, finds surprising fulfillment serving as a teacher and role model at a local high school. At a time when kids' media role models often headline negative news stories, the show elicits hope in the power of second chances. Content-wise there isn't much to worry about beyond flirting and some suggestive remarks, so tweens should be fine. Expect some "normal" teen behavior (talking back to an authority figure, being rude to a classmate), all of which comes across as funny rather than inappropriate.

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What's the story?

When Hollywood star Marcus Jackson's (Bill Bellamy) heated encounter with paparazzi lands him in court, the judge orders him to teach at the disadvantaged South Central High School for community service. Even more shocking than the sentence itself is how much Marcus comes to enjoy working with the students, and eventually he decides to forego acting and continue teaching, much to the dismay of his pushy agent, Bobby Gold (Jon Lovitz), who wants his star client back in the headlines. But balancing the needs of his new career and the antics of his live-in houseguests, Jamal (Alex Thomas) and Tony (Tony T. Roberts), is enough for him right now. The show also stars Tim Meadows, Vivica A. Fox, and Essence Atkins as a few of Marcus' coworkers.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

MR. BOX OFFICE takes a comical look at the fall and subsequent rise of a (fictional) celebrity, but it does so with a surprisingly sentimental element to the main character's evolution. Here's a guy fully ingrained in the atmosphere of fame who winds up thriving in a new, more meaningful life challenge. What's more, he values this change because he realizes his duties as a role model... Yes, the plot is contrived (a movie star who just happens to have a teaching license stashed away?), and the story is often pretty corny, but there is some value in the story of a fish-out-of-water celebrity who values a less conspicuous kind of success.

Despite a talented cast, though, Mr. Box Office comes up short on sharp writing, production value, and general originality, with a plot that bears the marks of Welcome Back, Kotter, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and a handful of other sitcoms that preceded it. It's not destined to be a classic, but it does take a curious look at the nature of fame and ask you to ponder the definition of success, both of which are good points of discussion with your tweens.
 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Marcus' reasoning for embracing teaching. Is it a conscious decision for him? How does he use his experiences to inspire his students?

  • Kids: Who are some of your personal role models? Do you know each one personally? If not, how do you know that person's true personality? What is this show's message about celebrities' images vs. their true nature?

  • Did you notice any instances of stereotyping in the show? Did they contribute to the comedy? Are they ever acceptable in entertainment?

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TV details

Cast:Bill Bellamy, Tim Meadows, Vivica A. Fox
Network:BET
Genre:Comedy
Topics:Friendship, High school
TV rating:TV-PG

This review of Mr. Box Office was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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