Growing Up is an innovative hybrid docu-series that explores the challenges, triumphs, and complexities of adolescence through ten compelling coming of age stories. The series uses narrative, experimental, and documentary filmmaking to follow one casted individual, ages 18 to 22, as they tell their story. They represent a wide range of lived experiences, giving audiences emotionally powerful narratives that offer an engaging look at teenage-hood and the diverse social, familial, and internal obstacles young people face on their path to self-discovery and acceptance. Each 30-minute episode features one young person, or “hero,” and their experience growing up. Each episode is anchored by a deeply personal interview that allows our heroes to walk us through their childhood and teenage years. Alongside these interviews, creative cinematic reenactments help bring their major inflection points to life.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Avalon N. comments, “Growing Up is a very touching and well thought out docu-series. With so many inspiring stories it really speaks to my heart and made me think. Growing Up incorporates so many amazing things. There are well thought out moments such as connecting to one’s younger self.” See her full review and interviews below.

Growing Up 

By Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Growing Up is a very touching and well thought out docu-series. With so many inspiring stories it really speaks to my heart and made me think.

This series, created by Brie Larson, is about a lot of different heroes including Gavin Arneson whose story is about poverty, Sofia Ongele whose story is about meeting expectations and Amiri Nash whose story is about growing up Black and gay, along with many others. They all share their stories of growing up that ranges from living in poverty, or depression, and of friendship. Throughout this series there are many different lessons and stories to be learned and shared.

Growing Up incorporates so many amazing things. There are well thought out moments such as connecting to one’s younger self. There is often an actor portraying the younger version of the person speaking and we see them hug or hold hands with each other. There are also many different reenactments that enhance the way the person’s story is told like a prom scene or a summer camp scene. One scene that is particularly striking is in the Gavin episode, the last episode of the season, when he gives his graduation speech. Instead of finding the actual people that were there, the other heroes are listening to him. Then, to top the whole scene off, we see actual footage from his graduation speech.

Another thing that impressed me is how these heroes are willing to share their stories. It can often be frightening to share your personal life story on screen for so many to see, and these heroes really stepped up to the plate. Another big part of this series is having a room where all the heroes sit to tell each other their stories; this room is shown repeatedly throughout the series and often heroes from different episodes talk to the hero currently sharing their story.

The message of this docu-series is to always be yourself, love yourself and know you are never alone.

I give Growing Up 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, as well as adults. This series begins streaming on Disney+ September 8, 2022.

Keywords: movie reviews,by kids for kids, growing up disney +,Growing UP, Nicole Galovski, Kishori Rajan, Smriti Mundhra, Ashley Eakin, Gavin Arneson, Ekwa Msangi, Elegance Bratton, Amiri Nash, Vanessa Aryee, Rudy Valdez, Brie Larson, Alex Crotty, Sage Grace Dolan-Sandrino, Emily Flores, Yara Shahidi, Sofia Ongele


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