Today’s Prayer Focus
Copyright, CBS Films

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life

also known as “Liceu: Os Piores Anos da Minha Vida,” “Srednja škola: Najgore razdoblje mog života”
MPA Rating: PG-Rating (MPA) for rude humor throughout, language and thematic elements.

Reviewed by: Gabriel Mohler

Moral Rating: Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:
Primary Audience: Teens Kids Family
Genre: Teen Comedy
Length: 1 hr. 32 min.
Year of Release: 2016
USA Release: October 7, 2016 (wide—2,822 theaters)
DVD: January 3, 2017
Copyright, CBS Filmsclick photos to ENLARGE Copyright, CBS Films Copyright, CBS Films Copyright, CBS Films Copyright, CBS Films Copyright, CBS Films Copyright, CBS Films Copyright, CBS Films Copyright, CBS Films Copyright, CBS Films
Relevant Issues

following rules

obeying authorities over us

problems associated with excessive do’s and don’ts

tyrannical Principal

bullies and how to deal with them

effects of teenage hormones

How do I know what is right from wrong? Answer

How can I decide whether a particular activity is wrong? Answer

Are we living in a moral Stone Age? Answer

What is sin?

Teen Qs—Christian Answers® for teenagers
Teens—Have questions? Find answers in our popular TeenQs section. Get answers to your questions about life, dating and much more.
Featuring Griffin Gluck … Rafe Khatchadorian
Lauren GrahamJules
Isabela Moner … Jeannie Galleta
Adam Pally …
Rob Riggle …
Thomas Barbusca … Leo
Retta … Ida Stricker
Efren Ramirez …
Andrew Daly … Dwight
See all »
Director Steve Carr — “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” (2009), “Daddy Day Care” (2003)
Producer CBS Films
James Patterson Entertainment
See all »
Distributor CBS Films

I had some major concerns about this film when it came out. It looked like the next “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” a teen classic with some of the worst role models EVER! I was relieved to find that “Middle School…” isn’t nearly that bad; its messages are not all bad, but mixed.

Before I delve into all that, let me get the usual content concerns out of the way. The only violence is several animated slapstick action scenes, which are the imaginations of a child artist. The only sexual content is a reference to a character having drawn b**bs, and another character being hot.

There is also a kiss between the two main characters (who are middle schoolers), and they have a romantic relationship throughout. (I actually find this more concerning than the aforementioned issues.) Viewers should also be cautioned that Rafe’s divorced mother and her boyfriend move in together before marriage. I found this inoffensive, however, because the entire relationship is portrayed in a negative light; and it’s an honest portrayal of what is unfortunately normal in our day and age. It’s a real thing that many children deal with.

The only language is five OMGs, one p*ss, one t*rd, the beginning of an s-word, and a handful of rude slang terms, like “ef,” sucks,” and “butt wipe.” While I don’t consider toilet humor to be necessarily sinful, this film overdoes it. Big time. Butts, pee, poop, farts, wedgies—it’s all here.

The premise of the film, in short, is that the administrators at Rafe’s new school are mean and hate children, so Rafe and his friends rebel in the most slapstick ways possible. As I was thinking about this film, I found that for every thought I had, there was an “on the other hand.” So I think that’s the best way to present all the positives and negatives of this film—just write out all those thoughts.

On the one hand, the administration at the school is truly evil, and they deserve what they’re getting. They are intentionally rough to the kids and pretty much everyone else in their lives. On the other hand, the kids’ retaliation affects (or could affect) more people than just those who deserve it, and this is never taken into consideration.

On the one hand, the Principal overreacts to every offense he sees and even takes offense at unreasonable things. On the other hand, the kids begin misbehaving before most of that takes place (though on only a fraction of the scale that they do throughout the rest of the film).

On the one hand, the kids SAY they’re rebelling to fight for the fair treatment of students. They never verbally express any vengeful motives. On the other hand, their actions say quite the opposite. Do they write to the state Board of Education with their stories or to request investigation? Of course not, where would the fun be in that? Instead, they just go through the rule book and break each rule one by one. They graffiti the walls, put paint in the sprinklers, dump a load of dry poop all over the Principal, and much more—as if those things are actually going to make a difference.

On the one hand, the Principal eventually cheats (I won’t say how), taking advantage of his students to promote the school. Thus, the students have to break some rules to legally prove this. On the other hand, they wage their war long before they are made aware of this.

On the one hand, there are some good authority figures in the film, so it doesn’t teach that all authority is bad. On the other hand, the good adults don’t offer the children any advice on how to handle the situation rightly!

On the one hand, the methods of rebellion displayed are so over-the-top and unrealistic that even young viewers probably won’t take them seriously. On the other hand, there’s not much more to the film than just that—mindless entertainment.

On the one hand, the film does genuinely try to relate to children by portraying the struggles of many young people in our day and age. On the other hand, it leaves them with absolutely no real-life solution or redemption—just a glamorous revenge fantasy.

How do I know what is right from wrong? Answer

How can I decide whether a particular activity is wrong? Answer

One thing this film did do for me is remind me of every reason why I encourage homeschooling instead of sending your children to such a worldly environment. How offensive this film is can be debated, but I challenge anyone to argue that it’s not highly immature. I hope my thoughts will give every parent enough information to make a decision for their family. As for my kids, they will not see this film.

The “Home Alone” movies are classics for a good reason! Watch them instead!

Violence: Mild / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Mild

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Movie Critics
…a middle schooler goes to war with his rules-obsessed principal… should please its tween target audience…
Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter
…a youth-skewing comedy-fantasy with possible cross-generational appeal. …every generation is entitled to its own revenge fantasy…
Joe Leydon, Variety
…a fine diversion for the not-a-kid-not-yet-an-adult in your life… imagines a world in which institutions are evil, principals are tyrannical and all-out insurrection is the answer…
Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service
…comedically flat adaptation of James Patterson’s kid-lit novel is hardly in a class with templates like “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.” Some flashes of poignancy, surprisingly, are the biggest thing the film has going for it, shoehorned though they are into the uninspired mischief. …
Tom Russo, The Boston Globe
…has some heart but mostly falls flat… Essentially a vehicle for highly unrealistic youthful shenanigans… [2/5]
Debbie Holloway, Crosswalk
…Ironically, Middle School’s message is about encouraging kids and grown-ups to think outside the box and yet, the filmmakers themselves do precisely the opposite. [2/4]
Brad Wheeler, The Globe and Mail

PLEASE share your observations and insights to be posted here.