Channeling the spirit of John Hughes and playing like a tween version of Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life delivers an easily digestible and amusing portrait of youthful hijinks.
Throw in some tacked-on anti-standardized-tests speeches and a late-in-the-game reveal about a death in the family, and you've got a movie that's constantly zigging and zagging emotionally without a skilled hand at the wheel.
Though its title and general tone lament the stifling atmosphere of the years between childhood and full-fledged teenhood, the movie misses the animal hostility and physical awkwardness of genuine tweens.
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.
Despite a cringe-worthy gaffe with regards to the Wu-Tang Clan's geographical origins, "Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life" is harmless fun with a trace of anarchy in its DNA.
Directed by Steve Carr ("Paul Blart: Mall Cop"), the movie borrows a trick or two from the Disney XD series "Kirby Buckets," with a dollop of "A Brilliant Mind" for dramatic heft.
A youth-skewing comedy-fantasy with possible cross-generational appeal.
It's a so-so film with jarring tone changes and a plot that sputters before a predictable ending. But there are moments of inspiration and authenticity.
Middle School" borrows its themes from '80s classics like Ferris Bueller's Day Off and The Breakfast Club, but shows innovative style with animated sequences from Rafe's lively imagination.