27 August 2014

Movie Review: "Alice Upside Down"

Rated: Not Rated
Starring: Alyson Stoner, Lucas Grabeel, Luke Perry, Penny Marshall, and Bridgit Mendler
Released: 2007 (limited theatrical release) / 2008 (DVD)
Alice McKinley (Alyson Stoner, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody) is having a hard time adjusting to her new life.  Between moving to a new city, and the death of her mother a few years ago, things have been tough.  To make matters worse, her brother Lester (Lucas Grabeel, High School Musical) is crazy, and her father (Luke Perry) tries his hardest, but still struggles, especially in his relationship with Alice.  When Alice starts school, she ends up in the homeroom of Mrs. Plotkin (Penny Marshall), a notoriously tough teacher.  To get in the good graces of Miss Cole, the teacher whose homeroom Alice wishes she was in, she signs up for theater club, which pits her against prima donna Pamela (Bridgit Mendler, Good Luck Charlie) for the lead role in the upcoming play.  When things seem to go south, everyone is in for a surprise...especially Alice herself.
Based on the book by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.

The Good
At its core, this was an enjoyable, DCOM-style comedy/drama.  It's definitely family-friendly; though some of Mrs. Naylor's Alice books have allegedly caused controversy, nothing in this film would have earned higher than a "PG" from the MPAA.  It also teaches some positive lessons, and Alice herself is a likable heroine.

The Bad
The main problem with this movie is that it was a bit difficult to get through.  Also, it feels like the premiere of a TV series; that means the lack of a sequel may disappoint those who want to know more about Alice, unless they'll read the books.  Though this film was mostly clean in content, I thought it was a bit inappropriate to have shirtless teenage boys performing in a rock band; that seemed to be mere eye candy for the target audience.

Most Disney Channel Original Movies--DCOMs for short--are good for one viewing...but nothing more than that.  Though this wasn't made for the Mouse network--after all, it got a limited theatrical release--it feels just like a DCOM, especially when you consider the résumés of its main stars.  Fans of such films will likely enjoy Alice Upside Down, but, everyone else might want to watch something else.

Score: 3/5

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