“Contest” is an anti-bullying comedy-drama film written and directed by Anthony Joseph Giunta, and stars Kenton Duty, Daniel Flaherty, Katherine McNamara (Sarah), and Mary Beth Peil (“Gran” Angela Maria Tucci). The film made its television debut on the Cartoon Network on October 6, 2013 as part of their Stop Bullying, Speak Up promotion. Bullying is something most people can relate to but it’s not always an easy think to talk about. If you have school age children, “Contest” is a movie that will certainly open up some communications about the problems they could be facing with bullying.
Tommy enters a team cooking contest in order to save his grandma’s pizzeria that is having financial difficulties. As Tommy looks for a team to partner up with for the competition, Matt’s older brother (who just so happens to be the landlord of the building that houses the failing restaurant) convinces him to team up in the contest with Tommy, but he doesn’t do this with good intentions. Matt proceeds to “help” Tommy recruit team members that are socially awkward, but something that is somewhat predictable begins to happen: friendships form once the four get to know one another.
I’ll bypass information about the rest of the plot so as not to spoil it. After all, for this movie, our review isn’t really focused about the details of the plot. It’s really about seeing how good of a job the film does at getting a message out to parents and kids alike without forcing it. In that regard, this movie is superb. “Contest” does a great job of showing the different backgrounds of the characters and how their new-found relationships change their perspectives on people.
We were really looking forward to the DVD release having followed some of the young actors in the film from their respective Disney Channel ties. Kenton Duty, from his role on Disney Channel’s “Shake it Up!” as well as Katherine McNamara and her roles in the Disney Channel Original Movie “Girl Vs. Monster” and several regular appearances on Disney Channel shows like “Kickin’ It” and “Jessie.” We also had the opportunity to visit with Kat in person while she was working on another project this summer. She is an excellent young performer and is also one of the nicest and most positive people we have encountered. Danny Flaherty has appeared in a number of television shows and movies, and the performances of the three young stars really stood out.
Everyone involved in the film should be commended for their quality of work and for providing an entertaining film with such a positive message.