Contest Strikes a Chord for Change


I am glad I am not a high school student in today’s world.  With Facebook, Twitter, and camera phones, one’s most embarrassing moments can instantly be posted to a public audience.  Back in my day, Live Journal and texting were the way to ruin someone’s reputation.

I enjoy watching teen movies, especially ones with a good-hearted message.  My husband and I sat down with open minds and watched the movie, Contest, directed by Anthony Joseph Giunta.


This movie, which was originally aired on Cartoon Network during National Bullying Prevention Month, is a coming-of-age story about Tommy Dolen (Danny Flaherty) and his bully, Matt Prylek (Kenton Duty).

Tommy is an outsider tormented by Matt, the school’s most popular student and star athlete.  In the beginning, Matt is suspended from the swim team and is encouraged to befriend the very person he makes fun of, Tommy, in order to get back on the team.

This new friendship is awkward, and it takes time for them to learn how to trust one another.  Matt helps Tommy find a team for a cooking show his grandmother entered him into, but Matt ends up being a team member through some behind-the-scenes scams and incidents.  Tommy’s fame also lends a hand in getting the attention of his crush, Sarah O’Malley (Katherine McNamara).  Will Tommy and Matt’s friendship withstand the drama?

It is a great family film and touches on the impact of bullying without going over the top.  The cast was entertaining and the enjoyment of their work came across on film.  A lot of teen movies focus on catty girls, but Contest was refreshing by bringing male bullying to the foreground.  When I was in high school, the boys who were bullied didn’t say anything because they would end up being a prime target.  This movie portrays the reality that truly does exist in high schools where levels of popularity denote the ability to beat up on the outsiders.

There are many special features, including bloopers, deleted and extended scenes, four music videos, and two public service announcements.  During the bloopers and deleted and extra scenes, the voice-over of the director was not professionally recorded and the background music was louder than the movie.  The two public service announcements feature Kenton Duty (Matt) and Katherine McNamara (Sarah) about anti-bullying.  The trailer is also included.

The film is rated PG.  Most ages will enjoy watching the characters grow, but it is mostly geared toward middle and high school students.  As an adult, I could appreciate the honesty of the brutal bullying that takes place in high school, and this movie shows how one person can make a difference by changing their ways.  The difference may only be felt by a few, but the results could also have a rippling effect.  I would definitely recommend it for a family movie night.  It will be released on DVD on Tuesday, December 17, 2013.

Pre-order Contest and support with your purchase (and spend nothing extra).

Copyright 2013 Tanya Weitzel


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