Radio Rebel (a J!-ENT DVD Review)
June 10, 2012 by Dennis Amith
“Radio Rebel” is an enjoyable family film that manages to be entertaining, upbeat and yes, even has its fair share of cheesiness. Sure, the mysterious DJ storyline has been done before, but in the context of Disney Channel films for a younger audience and parents looking for a positive film which focuses on one growing as an individual, “Radio Rebel” is recommended.
© 2012 MVE Violet, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
DVD TITLE: Radio Rebel
DURATION: 89 Minutes
DVD INFORMATION: Color, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, Widescreen (1:78:1) – Enhanced for 16×9 Television, Closed Caption for the Hearing Impaired
COMPANY: Image Entertainment, Marvista
RATED: NOT RATED
RELEASE DATE: June 19, 2012
Directed by Peter Howitt
Based on the novel by Danielle Joseph
Written by Erik Patterson and Jessica Scott
Executive Producer: Kim Arnott, Oliver De Caigny, Jane Goldenring, Michael Jacobs, Robyn Snyder, Fernando Szew
Line Producer: Mandy Spencer-Phillips
Music by James Jandrisch
Cinematography by Kamal Derkaoui
Edited by Richard Schwadel
Casting by Jackie Lind
Production Design by Troy Hansen
Costume Design by Rebekka Sorensen
Debby Ryan as Tara
Sarena Parmar as Audrey
Adam DiMarco as Gavin
Merritt Patterson as Stacy
Allie Bertram as Kim
Lain Belcher as Barry
Rowen Kahn as Larry
Atticus Dean Mitchell as Gabe
Mercedes de la Zerda as DJ Cami Q
April Telek as Delilah
Martin Cummins as Rob
Nancy Robertson as Principal Moreno
Tara Adams (Debby Ryan, Disney Channel’s Jessie) is just an ordinary high school junior…except one thing. Tara’s got a secret – a secret identity. She’s Radio Rebel, the most popular radio D in Seattle. In person, Tara is as shy as they come, but on-air Radio Rebel is the smoothest talker around – she gives voice to all kids, popular and unpopular alike, and she questions the status quo. As Radio Rbel’s popularity grows, so does the pressure to reveal her true identity. Now, Tara must choose between keeping her on-air identity a secret, or owning her voice and risk losing everything.
Can the girl who never speaks… become the voice of a generation?
Definitely so in the 2012 Disney Channel Original Movie “Radio Rebel”.
Based on the novel “Shrinking Violet” by Danielle Joseph, the film adaptation known as “Radio Rebel” is directed by Peter Howitt (“Sliding Doors”, “Antitrust”, “”Dangerous Parking”, “Defying Gravity”) and features a screenplay written by Erik Patterson and Jessica Scott (both co-wrote “Another Cinderella Story” and “A Cinderalla Story: Once Upon a Song”).
The film would star popular Disney Channel actress Debby Ryan (“The Suite Life on Deck”, “Jessie”, “16 Wishes”), Sarena Parmar (“How to be Indie”, “The Border”, “Degrassi: The Next Generation”), Adam DiMarco (“Arctic Air”, “Do Something With Your Life”) and Meritt Patterson (“The Hole in 3D”, “Peter Jackson & the Olympians: Lightning Thief”, “Kyle XY”).
And now “Radio Rebel” will be released on DVD courtesy of Image Entertainment.
“Radio Rebel” is set in Seattle and revolves around a shy 17-year-old senior named Tara Adams (as portrayed by Debby Ryan). A shy teenager at Lincoln Bay High School and is to afraid to speak to anyone, except her best friend Audrey (as portrayed by Sarena Parmar), Tara longs for Gavin (as portrayed by Adam DiMarco), a member of the rock band “The G’s”. She is often teased by the popular girl in school, Stacy (as portrayed by Merritt Patterson) who loves to be the center of attention.
At home, she is also not as talkative since her mother Delilah (as portrayed by April Telek) divorced her father and married Rob (as portrayed by Martin Cummins), a radio executive that runs SLAM FM, the hottest radio station in the city.
But for the shy Tara, she has a secret. She is the podcast DJ known as “Radio Rebel” and through her voice, she inspires the students at Lincoln Bay High School. Her voice is so popular that it angers Principal Moreno (as portrayed by Nancy Robertson), as she feels it is disruptive to the school but also angers Stacy, who thinks that Radio Rebel’s popularity may disrupt her chances for becoming prom queen.
Meanwhile, Tara, Gavin and Stacy are selected to be in the school play, which once again causes friction between Tara and Stacy as Stacy wants to be the center of attention of Gavin. But Gavin likes Tara’s quiet demeanor and loves being around her, much to the chagrin of his bandmates of “The G’s”, who feel that Gavin must be with popular girls that would make the band look good.
But changes come to Tara’s life and her secret identity as “Radio Rebel”, when she reveals to her stepfather of her secret identity. Seeing how popular Radio Rebel is, Rob along with DJ Cami Q (as portrayed by Mercedes de la Zerda), help Radio Rebel become a major sensation by giving Tara, her own time slot for “Radio Rebel” on SLAM FM.
And with Radio Rebel becoming more popular, Principal Moreno, Stacy, her best friend Audrey and many students at Lincoln Bay High School, do all they can to uncover the true identity of Radio Rebel. How much longer can Tara keep her identity a secret?
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“Radio Rebel” is presented in Widescreen (1:78:1). For the most part, picture quality is good for DVD but as expected for a DVD release, you can see a bit of compression but nothing that would hurt your viewing of the film and for the most part, for most young viewers, this is a non-issue for a DVD release.
“Radio Rebel” is also presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound with close captions for the hearing impaired. The audio is clear through the front and center channels and with the film utilizing music, the audio quality is good for a Disney Channel film on DVD. I didn’t notice any major surround usage but for a film such as “Radio Rebel”, you can expect a lot of music and for the most part, dialogue and music is clear.
“Radio Rebel” comes with the following special features:
- Who is Radio Rebel? – (5:41) Behind the scenes of “Radio Rebel” and interviews with the cast members.
- From Prom to MORP - (3:05) The cast discuss their real-life prom experiences.
- Rockin’ Out with Radio Rebel – (2:47) The importance of music in “Radio Rebel”.
- On the Set with Debby Ryan – (2:16) Debby Ryan talks about her character and the cast talk about working with Debby.
- Red Carpet Rebel – (1:37) Interviews with people who watched “Radio Rebel” on the big screen.
- Deleted Scenes – (1:51) Several deleted scenes for “Radio Rebel”.
- Blooper Reel – (8:07) Outtakes from “Radio Rebel”.
- Music Video – (3:32) Debby Ryan’s music video cover of ’80s The Go-Go’s song “We Got the Beat”.
- Trailer – (1:14) The trailer for “Radio Rebel”.
“Radio Rebel” comes with a slipcover case.
“Radio Rebel” is a fun, tween family film and another springboard for actress Debby Ryan, who literally has become the current and most popular actress on the Disney Channel today. Star of Disney Channel’s “Jessie” and having appeared on “The Suite Life on Deck” to her first Disney Channel film “16 Wishes”, there is no doubt that similar to other Disney Channel young starlets such as Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, Ashley Tisdale, Selena Gomez, she is being developed not only as an actress but a music star.
And “Radio Rebel” definitely showcases her as an actress and also as a singer (as she covers the Go-Go’s 1980 hit “We Got the Beat”).
“Radio Rebel” is a story that is quite banal about a radio DJ trying to keep her identity a secret. While the best known film that tackled that story was Allan Moyle’s 1990 comedy-drama “Pump Up the Volume” starring Christian Slater, definitely times have changed. Where “Pump Up the Volume” was about a high school student running a “Pirate Radio” broadcast and is a loner and outsider at his local high school who uses his voice and feelings of aggression and angst of being an outsider, “Radio Rebel” character Tara is no different.
The character of Tara is very shy at school and around people, she is able to inspire many through her podcast. While “Pump Up the Volume” is driven by a DJ who is bitter about American society and features a storyline that confronts teenage suicide, “Radio Rebel” is not as dark or provocative. And because anyone can podcast and have their audio downloaded, back in the ’80s or ’90s, pirate radio was bad enough that the FCC would try to track down these individuals and charge them with a felony (and prison time).
Other similarities between the two films features a school principal wanting to expel problem students but that is where the similarity ends.
To describe “Radio Rebel”, I would call it very cheerful and a happy teen film. It’s an upbeat Disney Channel film, so you can expect a lot of humor, a lot of dancing, a lot of music and nothing dark or serious. But that’s just fine as parents who are looking for safe family films will definitely enjoy “Radio Rebel” because it is sweet and carries a positive message about one being themselves and not being fake. But also for one to find their own voice.
As a Disney Channel original movie, while not a musical in the sense of “High School Musical” or “Camp Rock” films, the film does feature cool music that is well-integrated into the film. Although, I’m not a big fan of talent lip-synching to another person’s voice, its a film that shares little similarity with last year’s Disney Channel musical drama “Lemonade Mouth” and one standing up for their beliefs and overcoming their own personal struggles.
As for the DVD, I was surprised that this DVD was not released through Disney but fortunately this Image Entertainment DVD release does have quite a few special features included. Video and audio quality are good as expected from a DVD release.
Overall, “Radio Rebel” is an enjoyable family film that manages to be entertaining, upbeat and yes, even has its fair share of cheesiness. Sure, the mysterious DJ storyline has been done before, but in the context of Disney Channel films for a younger audience and parents looking for a positive film which focuses on one growing as an individual, “Radio Rebel” is recommended.
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