TEEN SPIRIT

"Poor Country Girl Dreams of Being a Pop Singer"

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Language
Violence
Sex
Nudity

Summary:

TEEN SPIRIT is an engaging, hopeful modern Cinderella story about a shy, 17-year-old girl living with her single mother on the bucolic Isle of Wight in Britain who has big dreams of being a popstar. TEEN SPIRIT features an excellent performance by Elle Fanning as the girl and has a lot of heart, but it has a couple obscenities, some underage drinking, and an older teenager who tries to take advantage of the girl, though everything comes out okay in the end.

Review:

TEEN SPIRIT, the directorial debut of Screenwriter Max Minghella, is an engaging, hopeful modern Cinderella story about a shy, 17-year-old girl living with her single mother on the bucolic Isle of Wight in Britain who has big dreams of being a popstar. TEEN SPIRIT features an excellent performance by Elle Fanning as the girl and has a lot of heart, but there are a couple obscenities and some underage drinking that warrant caution for older children, though everything comes out alright in the end.

Violet is an introverted teenager who hardly interacts with children her age. She was forced to grow up fast and has trouble connecting with her peers. When she was very young, her father left the family and never returned. Since that day, Violet has been forced to help her single mother with the upkeep of their farmhouse.

After school, Violet works at a local bowling alley to help her mom pay the bills. On weekends, she tends to the goat, cooks, cleans, and only gets a break when she hops on her beloved white horse to ride around in the fields. With her mother in desperate need for more money to pay the bills, Violet dresses up and begins singing at a local bar in the evenings. She tells her mother she’s at a friend’s house and keeps her passion for singing a secret.

One night, while she is out singing, she befriends Vlad, an old, haggard, harmless, man who frequents the bar where she sings. He encourages her to keep singing, and drives her home to ensure she makes it back safe. A few days later, Violet learns Teen Spirit, a reality show for teenagers similar to AMERICAN IDOL, is coming to her high school to hold auditions. Violet enters the competition, but the judges inform her she must bring a guardian with her since she’s only 17-years-old. Violet calls up Vlad and asks him to pose as her uncle since her mother doesn’t approve of her singing. Vlad agrees to do it as long as he can be her manager if she makes it big. Violet agrees.

The next day at the competition, Violet learns Vlad was a famous opera singer and actually has a lot of valuable lessons to teach her. Violet makes it to the next day of auditions at the high school, so she must tell her mother about it. Violet introduces Vlad to her mother, and her mother relents. The mother agrees to let Vlad manage her daughter, but he only gets 15 percent of her earnings if she succeeds as a popstar. Violet ends up winning the trip to the finals, but only after she’s informed that the original first place winner cheated.

Violet and Vlad are whisked away to London where she will compete in the huge, televised singing competition with the best of the best, but Violet’s strength and morals are tested in London. Making matters worse, Violet and Vlad have an argument that could destroy both their chances at success.

TEEN SPIRIT is told in a realistic, slice-of-life manner, but it still has a lot of charms. The performances are very strong, with Elle Fanning shining as the young budding popstar (though she could smile a little bit more). Elle can really sing, and the movie’s soundtrack sounds like a good buy for pop music fans. The movie encourages viewers to root for the young singer’s success. When she and her manager finally reconcile at the end while her mother watches at home with the community as her daughter performs, the movie reaches a couple well-deserved emotional high points.

In the movie, both Violet and her mother attend church, while Violet sings in the choir. However, it’s clear that Violet’s passion is pop music, though her other wonders why Violet feels the need to sing for any other reason than to sing for “the Lord.” Despite her misgivings about her daughter’s passion, the mother express care for her daughter’s desires and is proud when she achieves success. Sadly, though, the father who abandoned them never shows up, even when Violet becomes famous for being in the Teen Spirit competition on TV. In the end, Violet recognizes Vlad for being the true mentor and father figure she so rightly deserves.

TEEN SPIRIT is a sleeper hit of the Spring. It does have, however, a couple obscenities and some underage drinking in one scene. Also, a slightly older male performer, who won the competition the year before, tries to take advantage of Violet at a party, but Vlad steps in to set things right.

Content:

(BB, CC, Ab, L, V, S, AA, D, MM):

Dominant Worldview and Other Worldview Content/Elements:
Strong moral worldview includes single mother (abandoned by husband) promotes compassion and love for her daughter’s dream even when she doesn’t agree with it at first, daughter honors and respects her mother, young singer’s manager provides love, support and encouragement for her even when she betrays him, love conquers all is demonstrated throughout entire movie, with minor Christian elements reflecting biblical principles of prayer and devotion to God, mother has paintings of Jesus and the Virgin Mary in her home, mother and daughter attend church every Sunday, daughter sings in the church choir, their church prays for young singer before she leaves for her singing competition finals in London, but young singer takes off the Cross necklace her father gave her before her big performance (movie implies she does that because father abandoned the family and doesn’t return, even after she becomes famous while appearing in a national singing competition)

Foul Language:
Two “s” word obscenities and no profanities, plus girl gets sick after a performance and throws up in a restroom

Violence:
Light violence, such as young singer’s manager punches and throws a young sleazy young rock star trying to take advantage of his female protégé at a party in a hotel bar

Sex:
17-year-old female in singing competition makes out with slightly older famous singer at a party in a hotel bar in front of everyone after he plies her with liquor though she promised her manager she wouldn’t drink, but manager shows up and rescues her against her will

Nudity:
No nudity but 17-year-old girl in pop star competition wears a short red dress and a couple tank tops

Alcohol Use:
Underage drinking at a party taking place in a hotel bar where a TV singing competition is taking place, manager of young singer trying to become a popstar gets drunk a couple times and ends up sleeping outside on one occasion (he clearly has a drinking problem but otherwise does good things)

Smoking and/or Drug Use and Abuse:
Brief smoking but no drugs; and,

Miscellaneous Immorality:
Teenage girl lies to her mother about being at a friend’s house to sing at a nearby open mike night at a local, but mother finds out, girl lies to mother about being sick so she can audition for singing competition but later has to tell her mother when she gets approved to the next round, young singer breaks a promise to her manager, young singer and manager have an argument but later apologize and forgive one another.

In Brief:

TEEN SPIRIT is an engaging Cinderella story about a 17-year-old farmgirl, immigrant from Poland who gets a chance to compete in a British show similar to AMERICAN IDOL. Despite her Christian mother’s misgivings, Violet teams up with Vlad, a former opera star from Eastern Europe, one of the few people who recognizes Violet’s talent. Violet and Vlad are whisked away to London where she will compete in the televised singing competition. Violet’s strength and morals are tested in London. Making matters worse, Violet and Vlad have an argument that could destroy both their chances at success.

TEEN SPIRIT is told in a realistic, slice-of-life manner, but it still has a lot of charms. The performances are very strong, with Elle Fanning shining as the young budding popstar. Elle can really sing! TEEN SPIRIT is a sleeper hit of the Spring. It does have, however, a couple obscenities and some underage drinking in one scene. Also, a slightly older male performer, who won the competition the year before, tries to take advantage of Violet at a party, but Vlad steps in to set things right.

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