22 January 2014

Movie Review: "Cloud 9" (2014)

Rated: TV-G (US)
Starring: Dove Cameron and Luke Benward
Released: January 17, 2014 (Disney Channel premiere)
Synopsis: Kayla Morgan (Dove Cameron, Liv and Maddie) is known for being the best female snowboarder in her town...but, one night, a unfortunate mistake gets her kicked off her snowboarding team, and forced to work off the cost of the damages she caused at a doggy daycare.  While there, she meets Will (Luke Benward, Good Luck Charlie), a former 'boarder who stopped participating after an accident led to a severe injury.  Kayla knows that, with his help, she can prove she has what it takes to win the Fire and Ice snowboarding championship...but can she convince him to overcome the past and try again? Full of extreme sports action, and with bits of romance, drama, and comedy thrown in, Disney Channel's Cloud 9 is a tale of one girl against all odds!

Artistic Merit

Plot: 4/5
We all know that sports generally aren't my thing, but I can appreciate a well-made, family-friendly movie on the topic just as much as the next cinephile.  I've previously watched--and enjoyed--other sports-themed films, ranging from Hoosiers to The Climb to Brink! Though Cloud 9's plot isn't anything revolutionary--these days, what is?--it works pretty well, so much so that I completed watching the film in less than twenty-four hours, which I rarely do, even with short flicks.  The one quibble I had is with the girl who doesn't talk, but only texts.  Is she mute? Does she have laryngitis? That's never explained in the film.

Production Values: 5/5
The acting is wonderful, especially from Dove Cameron, who is best known for playing a set of twins on Liv and Maddie (much like Hayley Mills and Lindsay Lohan previously did on The Parent Trap.)  Every extreme sports scene is spot-on, as well.  The soundtrack is also great, even featuring a duet from Ms. Cameron and her co-star Luke Benward, as well as two tracks from CCM's Superchic[k].  No problems in this department.

Moral Content

Positive Elements: 5/5
Kayla doesn't let unfortunate circumstances or naysayers get her down, and puts her all into everything, whether it's snowboarding or restyling a doggy daycare.  Other characters overcome past mistakes, put differences aside, and expect support from their own families when they don't get it.

Sex: 4.5/5
A guy and girl are in some sort of pool/hot tub together, and nearly kiss; later on, they actually do smooch.

Nudity: 4.5/5
When the guy and girl are in the water, you can see his bare shoulders.  (You can clearly see, however, that she is wearing a swimsuit, though it's hard to tell whether it's a one-piece or not.)

Language: 5/5

Violence: 3/5
There's quite a bit of rough-and-tumble sports action here.  A character crashes through a sign and brings it down; an accident that is said to be debilitating is shown in a flashback; and, snowboarders are seen crashing down right many times.  Elsewhere, comic violence is present in one or two scenes; a girl falling into a doggy bathtub, for example.

Drugs: 5/5
None! This is Disney Channel, people!

Frightening/Intense Scenes: 3.5/5
Not only is there an accident that is said to be debilitating, but there are two scenes where a dog is feared to be dead, and the same thing happens once with a human character. (Spoiler: In every case, they're just joking, and are perfectly fine.)

Final Score: 3/5
With the Winter Olympics coming up next month, the entire world--it would seem, at least--is focusing on figure skating, skiing, and other icy/snowy sports.  It makes sense, then, that Disney Channel would choose now to release this telefilm, not only because of the upcoming Sochi games, but also because Dove Cameron has already become an established star on the network.  Whether or not they will release Cloud 9 on DVD is uncertain, but, I would suggest either watching it live or recording it on your DVR, even if it gets the home video treatment.  Like many of the original movies from the Mouse Network, this one is not a film to be watched again and again.  It's definitely a great movie, but it's not one that people will be talking about for years to come.

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