Story

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life is based on the novel by best-selling author James Patterson. It’s about Rafe Katchadorian (Griffin Gluck), who transfers in the middle of the year to a new school after having been expelled from several others. After meeting the excessively strict and rule-driven principal Ken Dwight (Andy Daly), Rafe begins to doubt whether his experience will be a positive one.

While Rafe is sketching during a school assembly, Dwight notices and reacts by destroying Rafe’s entire sketchbook. Rafe is determined to seek revenge, so he and his friend Leo decide that they should metaphorically destroy Principal Dwight’s own book of rules and regulations by repeatedly misbehaving and breaking every rule. To do this, they play lots of pranks that get attention and appreciation from other students.

After Dwight tries to frame several students for the pranks by placing false evidence in their lockers, Rafe eventually confesses and is expelled from the school. Rafe now becomes more determined than ever to publicly denounce the principal for his unethical behaviour. 

Themes

Middle school; power and authority; grief and loss; friendship and relationships; parenting

Violence

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life has some very mild violence. For example:

  • There is animated/cartoon violence featuring sketched characters using weapons like guns – they shoot things and cause small light explosions.
  • A very young girl drives a car illegally and unintentionally damages it.
  • Lots of manure gets dumped on a character as part of a prank.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5
Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life, other than the violent scenes mentioned above.

From 5-8
Children in this age group might be confused or worried when it’s revealed late in the movie that Rafe’s friend Leo is actually his younger brother, who is dead.

From 8-13
Some younger children in this age group might also be disturbed by the revelation that Leo is actually Rafe’s dead younger brother.

Over 13
Nothing of concern

Sexual references

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life has some very mild sexual references, including when a female character is described as a ‘hot’ woman.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life shows adults drinking socially while they’re dining at a restaurant. 

Nudity and sexual activity

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life shows some mild sexual activity. For example:

  • Two adult characters kiss.
  • Two teenagers kiss briefly.

Product placement

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life has some product placement, including:

  • social media networks like Facebook and Instagram
  • sporting brands like Nike and Adidas
  • Apple products
  • BMW cars.

Coarse language

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life has some coarse language.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life is an inspiring coming-of-age comedy based on a best-selling book. It demonstrates the importance of fighting for what you believe to be right.

The movie follows Rafe as he intentionally breaks school principal Dwight’s rigid and unnecessarily strict rules. The movie makes it clear that Rafe’s struggles against Dwight’s oppressive are reasonable, but it also emphasises the importance of taking responsibility and accepting that your actions might have unintended negative consequences. It shows the powerful outcomes that individuals can achieve by taking action when others have stood on the sidelines. The movie also highlights the importance of strong and supportive relationships in overcoming challenges.

The themes and subject matter (and possibly the coarse language) of Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life make it more suitable for older children who can relate to the school experiences. In fact, there’s plenty in the movie for you to talk about with pre-teens and teenagers.

We don’t recommend this movie for children under 10 years, and we do recommend parental guidance for children aged 10-13 years.