- Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
- Written by
- Chris Bowman, Hubbel Palmer, Kara Holden
- Directed by
- Steve Carr
- Griffin Gluck, Lauren Graham, Andy Daly, Rob Riggle, Alexa Nisenson
Probably the most damning critique you can give a family comedy is to say that you need to be a family to enjoy it. So, you need to be a family to enjoy Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life.
Based on the young readers' novel of the same name, the film is aimed at kids a little younger than the middle-school set, what with its tame comedy, stock characters and simple ideas.
Wimpy kids – most kids are wimpy; the ones who weren't grow up to be Donald Trump – will identify with Griffin Gluck as the protagonist Rafe Khatchadorian. He's a likeable boy who works out his issues by drawing in a notebook, and his frustrations and fantasies come to life in animated form on screen. On his first day at a new middle school, his rebellious streak is engaged by a one-dimensional tyrannical principal. With encouragement from a friend, he wages an implausible campaign of rule breaking and disruption.
Idea-wise, scholastic issues are raised: standardized testing, the disregard for children's artistic pursuits and the overall regimentation of school life. 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.