It has never been easy to be a bright kid; it wasn't when I was young and I don't imagine it being too much easier these days. Although, the acceptance of the "nerd" and the "Geek" probably make life a little easier, there will always be some uneasiness.


"Cents" is not the story of a nerd getting bullied, it is the story of a nerd trying desperately to be stupidly cool with a bunch of kids who are literally going nowhere. Christopher Boone's first feature length film is a nifty project on kids making bad choices. And the place where kids start making those bad choices is generally middle-school.


The last visit through Middle school was with "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days", but Zach Gordon has grown to old and big to even try to pull that off again. This takes a different direction with a mother (Monique Candelaria) and daughter Sammy (Julia Flores) caught in a tense home life, where the mother wants to improve her lot in life and the daughter fights her tooth and nail with negativism.

Angela Braca (Candelaria) is a registered nurse trying desperately to get into medical school so that she can study to be a doctor. But she gets rejection letter after rejection letter from schools and her daughter takes exception to her mother's failings.


In the meantime at school Sammy falls in with the cool girls who don't really like her, but are attracted to her money-making scheme for skimming donated pennies from an ongoing penny drive for charity. Using Sammy's advanced math calculating skills, the girls figure a way so that they can take in a record amount of money and still skim off the top.


Naturally, children being children, ranks are drawn and they begin betraying each other. However, the pennies just keep on rolling in while the walls close in on Sammy, her friends and her mother.


The acting is uneven with a decent performance from Candelaria and the rest of the support cast including Esodie Geiger as the caring math teacher committed to getting Sammy involved in calculus. But Flores is almost emotionless and Boone does nothing to get her to emote.


"Cents" is a decent enough film for teaching self worth values to young children, but could easily play out as an after-school special. [VOD]   -- GEOFF BURTON