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Film / Radio Rebel

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Radio Rebel is a Disney Channel Original Movie based on the book Shrinking Violet by Danielle Joseph. It tells the story of Tara Adams (Debby Ryan), a Shrinking Violet with a major secret: By day she's an ordinary student, but by night she's an anonymous DJ called Radio Rebel. The movie focuses on her using her alter ego to encourage people to embrace what makes them unique, as well as her efforts to forge a relationship with Love Interest Gavin and her torment at the hands of Alpha Bitch Stacy, who finds her goal of becoming Prom Queen quickly threatened by Radio Rebel.

This film provides examples of:

  • Alpha Bitch: Stacy, but she thaws out at the end.
  • Always Identical Twins: Averted with Larry and Barry. They try dressing up identically, but being fraternal, it doesn't work well.
  • Anti-Interference Lock Up: At one point, the Alpha Bitch Stacy locks Tara in a closet so she can't be there to contribute to the drama project the two girls are doing with mutual love-interest Gavin, both in an effort to win Gavin over and to further torment Tara.
  • Artistic License – Law: Technically, for all her bluster, Principal Mareno (or any principal for that matter) can't actually expel anyone. Decisions like that are up to the Super Intendant or the School Board.
    • On a related note, anything confiscated does actually have to be returned to the students at some point, otherwise it's just theft.
    • You know, come to think of it, the Super Intendant and/or School Board are more likely to fire Mareno then expel Tara simply because she fails to be anything resembling a good Teacher.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Played with. Tara starts to get crowned, but she declares that since the whole school is Radio Rebel, the crown belongs to all of them. Then she proceeds to give the crown to Stacy, citing how important it was to her (after getting Stacy to say that she was also Radio Rebel.)
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  • Be Yourself: Radio Rebel's central message.
  • Catch Phrase: Tara says "This is Radio Rebel" when starting her show.
  • Character Development: Pretty much the entire point. Almost every non-adult character does develop into something better and more complex by the end.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "This lunchtime fiasco was a... fiasco!"
  • Easily Forgiven: Stacy, considering that she was ruthlessly mean to Tara from the beginning of the film and even moreso when she found out that Tara was Radio Rebel. Luckily for her, Tara isn't the type to hold a grudge. Lampshaded by Stacy herself.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Regarding the book, Shrinking Violet is about a Shrinking Violet.
  • The Film of the Book
  • Freudian Excuse: Before becoming the Alpha Bitch, Stacy used to be made fun of for constantly trying to dress like a princess. She became an Alpha Bitch solely to aim for Prom Queen, as then dressing and acting like a princess would finally be considered acceptable by her peers.
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  • Graceful Loser: For all the importance she placed on being Prom Queen, Stacy seemed prepared to accept her loss to Tara with a surprising amount of dignity.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Stacy and Gabe (who seem to get paired together at the end).
  • Hypocrite: Tara has a bit of trouble following her own advice, but this is largely remedied as the film goes on.
  • I Am Spartacus: The whole school claims to be Radio Rebel in order to protect Tara from being expelled. Even Stacy eventually.
  • Jerkass: Principal Moreno. Stacy and Gabe for most of the movie too.
  • Karma Houdini: Stacy, after Tara extend an olive branch to her.
  • Light Is Not Good: Stacy and Gabe were this until their Heel–Face Turn.
  • Lighter and Softer: than the 1990 film Pump Up the Volume, where the main character - 'Hard Harry' - seems to be a Spear Counterpart of Radio Rebel in almost every way.
  • Loves My Alter Ego: Subverted. It appears that this is the case between Gavin and Radio Rebel, but it turns out he was pretty smitten with Tara too.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Several changes between the original book Shrinking Violet and this movie, not the least of which is practically a completely revamped plot. In the book, the protagonist's (named Tere, short for Theresa) mom and stepdad are not married yet (and the mom is much more shallow and self-centered - and it's explicitly stated that Tere was born of wedlock at her mother's prom, which turns out to be an important plot point in the book but would obviously never fly on a Disney Channel production). Furthermore, she never started out as a podcast - the entire plot of the book is about her becoming an intern at her future stepdad's Miami radio station where she ends up through circumstance becoming a popular co-host (calling herself "Sweet-T" as opposed to "Radio Rebel"), all the while learning to overcome her crippling shyness and stand up for herself. The secret identity subplot is still present - but is entirely enforced by the radio station as a publicity stunt so they can "give her away" as a prom date as part of a promotional contest. Not only does the school's principal not have a problem with the broadcasts, but is literally completely non-existant as a character. The conflict between Tere and Stacy is entirely between each other.
  • Princess Phase: Stacy wore a tiara to school every day until the second grade. That's why she wants to be Prom Queen so badly, to feel like a princess again since she's too old to dress up every day.
  • Prom Wrecker: Principal Fisher decides to punish Radio Rebel's antics by cancelling the prom.
  • The Reveal: No, not that Tara is Radio Rebel. That Gavin is the dancing "Turkey on Rye" sandwich guy.
  • The Rock Star: Gabe, who is near psychotically obsessed with making it big.
  • Sarcastic Clapping: Principal Moreno when Tara reveals herself as Radio Rebel.
  • Seattle: Though of course, aside from a few establishing shots, it wasn't actually filmed there.
  • Secret Chaser: Stacy is determined to expose Radio Rebel once the Jerkass principal decides to cancel Prom unless Radio Rebel's identity is revealed. A subplot involves Tara's friends Barry and Larry trying to identify Radio Rebel, even before she goes on the radio.
  • Secret Keeper: Audrey and Gavin.
  • Secret Identity: Tara's identity as Radio Rebel.
  • Shrinking Violet: Tara.
  • Socially Awkward Hero: Tara is this in the movie, until she revealed herself as Radio Rebel.
  • Something Only They Would Say: Stacy catches on that Tara is Radio Rebel when Radio Rebel repeats something that Tara said to her earlier.
  • Theme Twin Naming: Larry and Barry.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: When their principal overreacts to Radio Rebel's rebellious podcast, she cancels the school's prom, for everyone. Not too long afterward, Radio Rebel gets hit with this HARD by nearly everyone at her school.
  • 0% Approval Rating: Tara/Radio Rebel herself, albeit temporarily, when prom is canceled
    • Principal Moreno is a more straight-up example as only Stacey and her cronies like her (and even then, only for the sake of their own ends).


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