Being invisible is what Laura does best.
That’s why she’s a songwriter instead of a singer. Sure, her sorta-famous drummer dad thinks she should try to make a music career for herself. And yes, her friends tell her she has an amazing voice.
But Laura doesn’t see the talent that they do. And she’s perfectly happy staying out of the limelight, thank you very much.
Then something extraordinary happens.
Laura discovers a dingy old microphone in a thrift store. And she can’t be certain, but she’s pretty sure it glowed when she touched it.
Soon, Laura has the perfect opportunity to put the mike to the test. On the night of her high school’s big talent show, Laura’s best friend gets food poisoning (courtesy of some cruel bullies).
Laura takes the stage with her brand new, er old, microphone in hand. And soon, she’s on a journey to discover just what might happen if she puts her fears aside and steps into the spotlight.
Laura is offered an opportunity to become a recording artist. And she’s ecstatic to finally realize her dreams of becoming a popstar. However, after long hours of vocal training, dance practice, song writing, photo shoots and more, Laura begins to learn that fame isn’t necessarily all it’s cracked up to be.
She discovers that what she really wants is the ability to be herself: to sing what she wants, eat what she wants, sleep when she wants and especially date who she wants. So at the encouragement of her crush, Ben, she learns how to stand up for herself and to shut down the inordinate demands of her record company.
At the beginning of the film, Laura’s parents seem to be at odds in their marriage. Her mom, Kim, doesn’t like that her dad, Kevin, spends so much time on the road with his band. Kim and Laura would both prefer that he was at home more often.
But despite their disagreements, it’s clear Kim and Kevin love each other and just want to do what’s best for Laura (even if those ideas clash on occasion). So they endeavor to work through their differences and do whatever it takes to keep their family together.
Characters apologize for their wrong actions. Friends and family are loyal and forgiving. A couple of characters selflessly give up their dreams for the benefit of others.
As it turns out, Laura’s glowing microphone is magical. When Ben picks it up, he feels the power emanating from it and realizes that’s why Laura has been able to perform so well on stage. However, we don’t learn much else about the device. And Laura chucks it into a lake at the end of the film to prevent the temptation of using it again.
Laura’s parents tell her that she is “wonderfully made,” a reference to Psalm 139:14. Laura and some other characters wear cross jewelry. Kim tells Laura that her dad will “move heaven and earth” for them.
A post-credits music video shows Laura and all her friends singing a song with lyrics that say, “God has given me you,” referring to how friendships make life better.
Laura and Ben both have crushes on each other, and their friends often tease them for their “rom-com” moments.
But in Nashville, Laura’s agent pairs her up with another young man, Zac, and the agent tells the press that they’re a couple (which understandably upsets Ben). They even sing a love song on a live streaming event.
Zac, who’s been working in Nashville a bit longer, explains to Laura that this isn’t the first time their agent has made him fake a romantic relationship. What’s worse is that the press doesn’t seem to care about him as anything more than an accessory to Laura (arm-candy, if you will). And their faux romance is arguably even more disturbing since it’s an adult forcing these minors into it.
Some teen girls wear midriff-baring tops and shorter skirts. A man kisses his wife on the cheek. Laura’s mom, who is a divorce lawyer, jokes that perhaps she should file her own divorce papers.
A man has a bad car wreck while on the phone with his wife. She panics and calls an ambulance. The man winds up in a coma for several months. (We see him heavily bandaged in a hospital bed.)
A popular girl manipulates a teen boy into purposely hitting a classmate in the head with a basketball. The same popular girl intentionally gives several classmates food poisoning, too.
A high schooler named Riley (who’s Laura’s friend) violently smashes a maraca to prevent someone from playing it in a talent show.
None. But characters occasionally exclaim, “Oh my gosh!” We hear the insult “idiot” a couple of times.
An adult woman drinks some wine.
Laura’s agent, Lee, abuses her and Zac (the other popstar Lee’s grooming for fame). Though she never insults Laura directly, the first thing Lee does is give Laura a makeover. She dictates Laura’s schedule from the moment she wakes to the moment she sleeps. Lee even decides what Laura is allowed to say and eat. (Not to mention that she lies to the press, saying that Laura and Zac are a couple.)
Laura begs Lee for a break from her exhausting schedule, or even just time to make a phone call home, but Lee refuses. (Lee also lied to Laura’s parents about hiring a personal tutor, so Laura isn’t able to continue her high school education while in training.) And all of this is in the name of making Lee look good.
Laura lies to her mom about not feeling well in order to skip school. She and Ben play hooky together, and when her mom returns home early, Laura pretends to be sleeping on the patio to avoid getting into trouble.
The school principal doesn’t seem to take her job very seriously. She accidentally insults her students over the intercom system many times. She obsesses over her dating profile during school hours. And she falsely takes credit for “discovering” Laura’s talent.
A teacher orders his students to sit in silence as a lesson, but really, it’s just an excuse for him to take a nap. A girl mocks him by taking selfies with him as he snoozes, but she’s caught and sent to detention (which she claims she was trying to do so she could get out of P.E.).
Laura’s parents can sometimes act immaturely. Kevin often makes selfish decisions without consulting Kim. And Kim pettily tries to make Kevin miserable when he’s on tour as a way of getting back at him. They both have a bad habit of putting Laura right in the middle of their disagreements.
After a couple of people get food poisoning, we hear the resulting stomach troubles. There are some jokes about cosmetic surgery, diets, bad breath and flatulence.
Teenagers lie and act immaturely. One girl relentlessly bullies Laura for seemingly no reason.
Have you ever had someone give you hard-to-hear advice, and it just sounds like they might be speaking from personal experience?
Well, by the end of Into the Spotlight, Laura definitely falls into that category.
Fame isn’t what Laura thought it would be. The hours are long. The press is only interested in who she’s dating. And man, what she wouldn’t give for a burger and fries.
But Laura learns from her experience who she really wants to be. As it turns out, she doesn’t care about being a popstar. She just wants to be able to write songs, eat junk food and spend time with her loved ones.
Into the Spotlight actually has very few content concerns since most of the heavier stuff is redeemed by the film’s end.
Laura’s agent proves herself to be an abusive, fame-hungry leech. But Laura learns how to stand up to her. A bully gives several classmates food poisoning (with audible results) and tries to make Laura’s life miserable, but she’s ultimately unsuccessful, too. A man suffers a near-fatal car accident. However, he eventually heals. We also watch a married couple fight for their marriage as their careers (and a major injury) pull them apart. But they persevere, and their relationship is that much stronger for it.
One kooky element that families may want to consider is the magical microphone that helps lead Laura to fame. And I call it kooky because we never really learn the whole story there. We just know it makes Laura sing really good.
That one oddity aside, Into the Spotlight is warm, funny and light-hearted. And families shouldn’t have trouble navigating the minor issues noted above.
Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and geeking out with her husband indulging in their “nerdoms,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything they love, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate and Lord of the Rings.