A.V. Club

Movie Review: Tweens can do better than the cartoon garishness of Middle School

Is there a subgenre as thankless as the live-action family comedy? Studio animation aimed at families, even when it’s second-tier, can often claim some level of technical artistry. But so many movies aimed at slightly older kids—too old to demand exclusively talking animals, too young to just go see whatever PG-13 movie parents would rather watch instead—seem to take their cues from the worst of animation and the most middling of sitcoms. This is the process by which the genuinely (and interestingly!) harrowing middle school years become Middle School: The Worst Years Of My Life.

Based on the first in a series of middle-grade novels co-authored by sentient publishing industry James Patterson and nearly enough collaborators to qualify as a writing room, Middle School follows Rafe Khatchadorian (Griffin Gluck) as he starts at a new school. His creativity almost immediately chafes against the rule-obsessed Principal Dwight (Andy …

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