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Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life | 2016 | PG | - 2.3.3

A middle school student (Griffin Gluck) enjoys an expansive imagination and dislikes authority figures. When he attends a school where he is expected to follow a massive list of rules, trouble begins. With a friend (Thomas Barbusca) he plots pranks against the uptight principal (Andy Daly) in order to annoy him and impress a female classmate (Isabela Moner). Also with Lauren Graham, Rob Riggle, Adam Pally and Retta. Directed by Steve Carr. A few phrases are spoken in Spanish without translation. [1:32]

SEX/NUDITY 2 - A man says to a woman, "I could kiss you" and she begins to kiss him and he turns away. A boy and a girl attending middle school kiss in front of the school briefly at night. A man flirts with a waitress, smiling and staring at her as his fiancée's two children look on, disgusted. A man kisses a woman's hand, growling and snuffling, until a man tells him to be quiet.
 A man says that he has no regrets that his wife left him because he likes standardized tests better than he likes her. A man says that he has an ex-wife. A preteen boy speaking in an assembly says his mother is really hot and the male principal agrees, but we do not see her. A man announces to middle school youth that there is a rumor that he has three nipples, but that he was born without nipples at all.
 Two women wearing low-cut blouses reveal a little cleavage. An animated sequence shows a larger boy giving a smaller boy a wedgie and we see the second cartoon boy's buttocks. In a cartoon of a bear in a track suit, we see the bear's human-like buttocks and large stomach.


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VIOLENCE/GORE 3 - A man and a woman run in a schoolyard and a boy sticks out his foot, tripping them both (they fall, but are not injured); the man grabs a child's bike, rides across the woman and she grunts.
 A boy in a classroom kicks a new boy sitting in front of him a few times and calls him names, telling him he will give him a wedgie so big that the new boy will be able to taste his underwear. A bully says that he will roundhouse kick another boy in the head and a teacher orders him to do it now, but the would-be kicker is unable to lift his leg. A bully puts a boy into a headlock and releases him. A bully slaps the books off another boy's desk. A man takes a teen boy's sketchbook and dissolves it in a 5-gallon bucket of blue acid. A man swings nunchucks in a school yard.
 A man dating a woman with an 8-year-old daughter and a middle school son is mean to the children, calling them names, shouting at them, and threatening to get rid of them. A man calls a dog names and splashes soapy car washing water onto the rear end of the dog and a girl wipes it off with a car-polishing towel. A man slams his hand on a car and screams at a dog.
 A man drives erratically with two children sitting in the back seat as they bounce and slide on the seat unsafely. A girl drives a car down a sidewalk at night to scratch the paint job on a building, leaving dents in the car and causing sparks. A man on a child's bike chases a man and a boy driving an electric landscaping cart-type vehicle; when the man on the bike stops, the other vehicle dumps manure on him. An 8-year-old girl drives a car down the street and stops.
 A boy plays a series of pranks on a school principal: The boy papers the walls of the school rooms and corridors with murals made of post-it notes, he puts graffiti on the outside walls of smiling cartoon characters in bright paints, he fills a trophy case with water and salt water fish (including an eel and a lobster), he adds bright fabric dyes to the school sprinkler system and sets it off to rain colored water on youth as they dance, he fills a large closet with plastic balls that knock a woman down when she opens the door, the principal puts on his hat and finds paint on his head in two scenes, and the boy rewires the school bell system to play loud flatulent noises that sound several times.
 A principal has a large manual with over 130 rules for middle school kids; he becomes angry with rule breakers and adds the rule that the bathrooms will be locked and no one may use them, and they must leave school when the last bell rings because he has cancelled all after-school activities and they will need to go to the bathroom badly anyway. A principal suspends an entire class of lower achievers and fires the teacher in order to rig standardized testing for higher scores; he is discovered planning this and is fired.
 Several mild arguments occur between a woman and her teen son, the mom and her 8-year-old daughter, the siblings, and the boy and his male school principal. A school vice principal shouts at youth in hallways and scares them; she says that the only thing important in school is teaching to the test. A boy tells a girl that his brother died of cancer and we hear that his father left the family when the brother became ill. A woman says that her 8-year-old daughter drinks espresso and coffee and needs to stop that. A woman, her son, and her daughter cry in two scenes. A middle school boy at night says goodbye and shakes hands with his deceased brother (he has been the boy's imaginary friend); the ghost beams up to a cartoon spaceship and becomes a cartoon.
 Cartoons in a sketchbook begin to move: a two-headed space alien blasting its own heads off with a large laser pistol (the heads grow back), another moving cartoon depicts a bee hive and laughing bees attacking a bear, a bear flatulates at breakfast in a house, a slaughterhouse comes alive with a big mouth of sharp teeth as it swallows a cow and burps, a boy eats hamburgers until he explodes and then flatulates and then bacteria eat his remains, and a school building with a big red face and huge mouth of sharp teeth chases a boy. A boy imagines a cartoon green zombie on a motorcycle, then a triangle of 10 of the same zombies dancing Michael Jackson steps from "Thriller." We see a cartoon dance party among two-headed aliens and a two-headed dog. In a cage on one wall, we see a zombie and a fat bear.
 A boy makes vomiting sounds with his mouth as a joke. A man kisses a woman's hand, growling and snuffling, until a manager tells him to be quiet. A man holds up a suit jacket and shouts that a dog urinated on it to make a wet spot that we see.


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LANGUAGE 3 - 2 implied but not enunciated F-words, 12 mild scatological terms, 16 anatomical terms, 4 mild obscenities, name-calling (jerk, crazy, stupid, dumb, weird, nerds, doofus, suckers, soft, loser, punky, hooligans, vandals, twerps, hypocrite, remedials, puppet regime, fat boy, talking bear, old people, Great Fatsby, Dork-ian, Crap-a-dinkian), exclamations (oh my gosh, oh my, oh man, booyah, jeez), 6 religious exclamations (e.g. Oh My God, Oh God, God, Jesus, Holy Infinity).


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SUBSTANCE USE - A restaurant scene shows men and women sitting at tables with glasses of wine (no one drinks).


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DISCUSSION TOPICS - Rigging standardized tests, school rules, control freaks, manipulators, abusiveness, bullies, death, loss, grief, labeling, self-discovery, family, love, respect, conflict resolution, reconciliation.

MESSAGE - The middle school years can be the most difficult years for pre-teens -- as well as their mother's life.

CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.


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