Middle School

(CBS Films)

 

When Rafe realizes that his rule-crazed principal is going to make life miserable, Rafe decides to secretly break every school rule.

 

Rated PG for rude humor throughout, language and thematic elements

Genre: Comedy

Viewer Appeal: 8-Tweens; Families

 

Who doesn't remember middle school? The peer pressure, bullying, and trying to make yourself look cool in front of the love of your life? Ah, the memories. Who wouldn't want to go back there? Whether you have good memories or not, the new Middle School movie is sure to give you a chuckle or two.

 

Based off James Patterson's Middle School book series, The Worst Years of My Life finds Rafe Khatchadorian (Griffin Gluck) starting a new middle school. Even though he tries to make a good first impression, Rafe immediately discovers what kind of school this is upon meeting Principal Dwight (Andy Daly), who warns Rafe that he's breaking several school rules by wearing bright colors and a shirt with a design. He then gets in trouble for standing in the hallway and talking to his best friend, Leo (Thomas Barbusca). To top off his first day, he finds himself sitting in front of the class bully, Miller (Jacob Hopkins), who kicks his chair and threatens Rafe.

 

Middle school doesn't get much better for Rafe after that, as he continues to find himself innocently getting into trouble and breaking rules, which only makes Rafe and Leo's creative minds think of all the ways to get back at Principal Dwight. They decide to wage an anonymous campaign and break every rule in the school rulebook, beginning with covering every school hallway in a mosaic of sticky notes, which ends in a sign saying "Rules Aren't For Everyone." As the movie continues, Rafe and Leo continue anonymously pulling prank after prank in an effort to torment Principal Dwight.

 

As Rafe focuses on pranks and making new friends, his home life is falling apart. His mother's condescending new boyfriend, Carl (Rob Riggle) is moving in and wants to send Rafe to a military school. How is Rafe going to make things right at home and at school?

 

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life isn't going to win Academy Awards for Best Motion Picture of 2016, but it's a fun movie for families to see together. The characters are likeable and have depth not typically seen in tween comedies, the plot has twists you won't see coming, and it has a quick pace that keeps things moving along. And there are a few laughs along the way, which keeps it all entertaining for everyone.

 

Let's Talk About It

Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this movie:

 

• Rafe used drawing as an escape, and as a way to deal with what was happening in his life. What do you use to cope when life is hard?

 

• What surprised you most about the ending of the movie?

 

• If you could play a harmless prank on someone, what would it be? What's stopping you from doing it?

 

--JW

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