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To the Mat
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that teens will fall for this sweet romantic comedy that's age appropriate thanks to its fairly tame content and feel-good messages. There are a couple of references to stimulants and speed -- and one scene that shows a character sniffing what's presumed to be the stuff -- so be prepared to talk with kids about it afterward. Language is intermittent ("bitch," "damn," "ass," and the like), and pro wrestlers duke it out in the ring with a few injuries (including a pretty serious spinal jolt), but that's unlikely to faze teens. The take-aways are overwhelmingly positive, putting a romantic spin on the lessons people can learn from reserving judgment and seeing past first impressions.
What's the story?
Uptight Wall Street consultant Janice Bailor (Laura Bell Bundy) is less than thrilled when her boss ships her off to Georgia to help a fledgling professional wrestling academy regain its financial footing, and she immediately gets off on the wrong foot with the school's laid-back instructor, Aaron Slocum (Rick Schroder), who refuses to acknowledge the severity of his situation. But culture shock is the least of her worries as she works to help Aaron save his family's legacy from the clutches of a devious investor, all the while struggling to find common ground with her new acquaintances. As time passes, Janice discovers that she has more in common with them than she originally thought -- and by knowing them, she learns some surprising things about herself.
Is it any good?
TO THE MAT is an engaging romantic comedy in the spirit of modern-day faves like You've Got Mail and Sweet Home Alabama. It's hard not to be inspired by a story of opposites attracting and love conquering all, and if you're a sucker for that kind of thing, then you'll love this movie. Schroder and Bundy deliver delightful performances, and the story does a good job of ensuring that all of the characters are deeper than one dimension, so there's a lot of human emotion to explore.
It's not always easy to find a romcom that you can share with your teens worrying about an uncomfortable bedroom scene to ruin the mood, but To the Mat's mostly benign content makes it a great choice for just such a scenario. Teens may be intrigued by the behind-the-scenes look at the world of pro wrestling, which raises some issues about society's impression of entertainment. And don't miss the chance to tie the movie's references to drug use into a discussion about that topic, too.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about relationships. How did the relationships in this movie impress you? Which ones were the most inspiring? Can love really transcend cultural, religious, or philosophical differences?
Teens: Did you think this movie stereotyped any of the characters? What was the purpose of that? Do you think anyone would find them offensive?
What do you think the movie's message was? Was it intended to inspire or teach? Do you think the media has a responsibility to inspire its audience?