Candy Jar (Movie)

Title — Candy Jar
Available on — Netflix
Production Country — United States
Release Date — 2018
Dueling high school debate champs who are at odds on just about everything forge ahead with ambitious plans to get into the colleges of their dreams.

🪶 Story & Synopsis

In the movie “Candy Jar,” directed by Ben Shelton, viewers are taken on a journey into the competitive world of high school debate. The story revolves around two ambitious and academically gifted teenagers, Lona (Sami Gayle) and Bennett (Jacob Latimore), who initially find themselves at odds as rivals on the debate team.

Set against the backdrop of the intense high school debate circuit, where words are weapons and victory is paramount, Lona and Bennett are both fiercely determined to win state championships and secure coveted spots at Ivy League universities.

Despite their initial animosity towards each other, Lona, an introverted bookworm from a working-class background, and Bennett, her wealthy debate team nemesis, gradually discover that they have more in common than they ever imagined.

As the story unfolds, the audience witnesses the evolution of their relationship from adversaries to allies, and eventually to something more. Lona and Bennett’s journey is not just about academic success and rivalry; it is also a story of self-discovery, friendship, and young love.

Supported by a talented cast including Helen Hunt, Christina Hendricks, and Uzo Aduba, the film beautifully captures the complexities of teenage life, the pressures of academic excellence, and the universal themes of acceptance and understanding.

Amidst the backdrop of debate competitions and college aspirations, “Candy Jar” delves into the emotional and personal growth of its characters, culminating in a heartwarming and poignant tale of young romance and self-realization.

With its blend of humor, intellect, and genuine emotion, “Candy Jar” offers a refreshing take on the teen romantic comedy genre, leaving viewers entertained and touched by the endearing story of Lona and Bennett.

🧑 Cast & Crew

Christina Hendricks, Helen Hunt, Uzo Aduba, Sami Gayle, Jacob Latimore

Actor Role
Jacob Latimore Bennett Russell
Sami Gayle Lona Skinner
Helen Hunt Kathy
Christina Hendricks Amy Skinner
Uzo Aduba Julia

💬 Reviews and feedback

Ever wondered what would happen if the fast-paced, witty banter of “Gilmore Girls” met the competitive spirit of “The Great Debaters”? Well, grab your popcorn and settle in for “Candy Jar,” a delightful romantic comedy that gives you just that! Released on Netflix on April 27, 2018, and directed by Ben Shelton, this film stars Sami Gayle and Jacob Latimore as dueling high school debate champions. It’s a sugary-sweet mix of teen romance and life lessons that will leave you with a smile—and maybe a craving for actual candy.


“Candy Jar” centers around two high-achieving high school students from very different backgrounds. Lona (Sami Gayle) is an introverted girl from a working-class family, while Bennett (Jacob Latimore) is her wealthy debate team nemesis. Despite their differences—and their intense rivalry—they share one thing in common: their ambitious plans to get into the colleges of their dreams. As they clash and collaborate through countless debates, they begin to realize that they have more in common than they initially thought.

Themes and Tone:

The movie tackles several themes familiar to anyone who’s navigated the treacherous waters of high school: the pressures of academic success, the fear of failure, and the journey toward self-discovery. It’s essentially a coming-of-age story wrapped in rapid-fire dialogue and sprinkled with humor. The tone is light-hearted but never shies away from touching moments that remind us all about the importance of seizing life’s opportunities.

Acting and Characters:

Sami Gayle and Jacob Latimore bring a delightful chemistry to their roles as Lona and Bennett. Their performances are both heartfelt and nuanced, making it easy for viewers to root for them even when they’re at each other’s throats in heated debates. Helen Hunt also makes an appearance two decades after her Oscar-winning performance in “As Good As It Gets,” proving she’s still got it!

Binge-watching Tip: If you’re feeling nostalgic for your own high school days or need a break from more intense dramas, “Candy Jar” offers an enjoyable escape that’s perfect for an easy afternoon watch.


Director Ben Shelton does an excellent job balancing humor with heart. The pacing is brisk without feeling rushed, which keeps viewers engaged throughout the film’s runtime. Shelton’s direction ensures that even when dealing with heavy themes like academic pressure or social inequality, the movie remains accessible and entertaining.


The musical score complements the film’s mood perfectly, adding an extra layer of emotion during key scenes without overwhelming them. It’s like adding just enough sugar to your tea—enhancing without overshadowing the flavor.

Binge-watching Tip: Pay attention to how music cues highlight emotional beats; it’s like getting auditory cliff notes!


The cinematography by Adam Silver captures both the grandeur of academic competitions and the intimate moments between Lona and Bennett beautifully. The use of lighting during debate scenes adds tension while softer lighting during quieter moments helps convey emotional depth.

Production Design & Special Effects:

No need for CGI explosions here! The production design effectively distinguishes between Lona’s modest home environment and Bennett’s affluent lifestyle without resorting to cliches or stereotypes.

Binge-watching Tip: Look out for subtle details in set design that enrich character backstories—like family photos or personal mementos—that add depth without needing dialogue exposition.

Editing & Pace:
The editing keeps things moving at a lively pace while allowing room for character development. There are almost no parts where it feels like dragging on; instead every scene seems purposeful.

The rapid-fire dialogue is one of Candy Jar’s standout features—it’s sharp, witty yet authentic enough not seem contrived.

Binge-watching Tip: Try watching some scenes twice—you’ll catch clever quips missed first time round!

User Interaction: Have you ever faced off against someone who initially seemed insufferable only realize had much common? Share your experiences!

In conclusion,
Candy Jar hits all right sweet spots delivering fun charming romantic comedy packed full memorable lines strong performances solid direction beautiful cinematography well-crafted storylines relatable themes leave lasting impression p.s seriously consider keeping stash actual candy handy watching this!

Final Rating: 8/10

Pros Cons
Rapid dialogue Gratuitous obscenities
Cute chemistry Minor language
Enjoyable and fun to watch Brief reference to getting high
Charming storyline Not super amazing
Strong performances


  • Candy Jar (2018) - IMDb


    • katiesmith-28728
    • Jul 15, 2018
    • How long is Candy Jar?Powered by Alexa


    • Runtime1 hour 32 minutes
    • Color
    • Sound mix
    • Aspect ratio
      • 1.85 : 1

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  • Candy Jar - Wikipedia

    Candy Jaris a 2018 American romantic comedy film directed by Ben Shelton and starring Sami Gayle and Jacob Latimore. The screenplay concerns a dueling high school debate champion duo who are trying to get into the colleges of their dreams. The film was released on April 27, 2018 on Netflix.

  • Candy Jar | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix - YouTube

  • Watch Candy Jar | Netflix Official Site

    UNLIMITED TV SHOWS & MOVIESSign InDueling high school debate champs who are at odds on just about everything forge ahead with ambitious plans to get into the colleges of their dreams.Starring:Christina Hendricks, Helen Hunt, Uzo AdubaWatch all you want.Watch offlineDownload and watch everywhere you go.This movie is…Charming, Quirky, InspiringAudioGerman, English – Audio Description, English [Original], Spanish (Latin America), French, ItalianSubtitlesEnglish, Spanish (Latin America), French, Simplified Chinese, Traditional ChineseCast

  • Candy Jar (2018) Stream and Watch Online | Moviefone

    Looking to watch ‘Candy Jar’ on your TV, phone, or tablet? Finding a streaming service to buy, rent, download, or watch the Ben Shelton-directed movie via subscription can be challenging, so we here at Moviefone want to help you out.Below, you’ll find a number of top-tier streaming and cable services – including rental, purchase, and subscription choices – along with the availability of ‘Candy Jar’ on each platform when they are available. Now, before we get into the nitty-gritty of how you can watch ‘Candy Jar’ right now, here are some finer points about the comedy flick.Released April 27th, 2018, ‘Candy Jar’ stars Sami Gayle, Jacob Latimore, Christina Hendricks, Uzo Aduba The PG-13 movie has a runtime of about 1 hr 32 min, and received a user score of 61 (out of 100) on TMDb, which put together reviews from 475 top users.What, so now you want to know what the movie’s about? Here’s the plot: “Dueling high school debate champs who are at odds on just about everything forge ahead with ambitious plans to get into the colleges of their dreams.”‘Candy Jar’ is currently available to rent, purchase, or stream via subscription on Netflix basic with Ads, and Netflix .

⚠️ Explanation (Spoiler)

In “Candy Jar,” directed by Ben Shelton, we follow the story of Lona Skinner and Bennet Russell, two high school debate champions who are fiercely competitive and aiming to secure spots at their dream colleges, Harvard for Lona and Yale for Bennet. The film, released in 2018 on Netflix, revolves around their journey as they navigate their academic ambitions, familial tensions, and budding relationship.

The movie kicks off in the principal’s office of Hemlock Prep Academy where Lona and Bennet, the only members of the debate club, are vying to become the club president to enhance their college applications. Despite their objections, they end up being declared co-presidents. Their mothers, Amy and Julia, also add a layer of tension with their passive-aggressive behavior towards each other.

As the story progresses, both Lona and Bennet advance to the finals of a debate tournament and are named co-champions due to being from the same school. They each submit their college applications, with Lona’s mother, Amy, pressuring her to participate in the homecoming event, which Lona reluctantly agrees to before escaping to the movies.

Fate intervenes when Lona and Bennet unexpectedly meet after the movie, leading to a night of bonding over fast food by the waterfront. Despite their initial reluctance, they are encouraged by their school guidance counselor, Kathy, to work together to qualify for the state championship, a task made challenging by their mothers’ interference.

Following a heart-wrenching revelation that neither of them got into their preferred colleges, Lona and Bennet are hit with another tragedy when Kathy dies in a car accident. This shared loss brings them closer, prompting them to reevaluate their priorities and decide to continue working together towards the state championship.

As they prepare for the competition, Lona and Bennet’s relationship evolves from rivals to friends, marked by moments of vulnerability and shared experiences. Their journey culminates in a poignant final debate where they choose authenticity over victory, ultimately losing the championship but finding solace in each other’s company.

The movie concludes with a heartwarming scene on prom night, where Lona and Bennet, having been accepted into their respective dream colleges, opt to skip the dance and head to the movies together, solidifying their newfound romance and the beginning of a promising future.

👪 Parents Guide & Age Rating


Age Rating:

The movie “Candy Jar” has a maturity rating of TV-14, which means it is suitable for viewers aged 14 years and above. It may contain content unsuitable for children under 14.

Parental Guide:

Parents should be aware that “Candy Jar” is a romantic comedy film that focuses on the lives of high school debate champions. Here is a detailed parental guide to help you decide if the movie is appropriate for your child:

  • Sex & Nudity: The film contains mild romantic themes and a few kisses between teenage characters. There are no explicit sexual scenes or nudity.
  • Violence & Gore: There are minimal instances of verbal arguments and competitive behavior between the characters due to their debate rivalry. No graphic violence or gore is depicted in the movie.
  • Profanity: The movie may include occasional mild language, such as name-calling and heated exchanges, but there is no frequent or strong profanity used throughout the film.
  • Alcohol, Drugs & Smoking: There are no scenes depicting the use of alcohol, drugs, or smoking in the movie.
  • Frightening & Intense Scenes: The film is light-hearted and focuses on themes of friendship, competition, and teenage romance. There are no intense or frightening scenes that would be unsuitable for young viewers.

Overall, “Candy Jar” is a wholesome and entertaining movie suitable for teenagers aged 14 and above, with positive messages about friendship, ambition, and the importance of enjoying life.

📺 Streaming and where to watch

streaming service extra information
Netflix You can watch Candy Jar on Netflix. Dueling high school debate champs who are at odds on just about everything forge ahead with ambitious plans to get into the colleges of their dreams.

❝ Quotes and Cult

  • Look at him. Look at that smug look on his smug face. He thinks the presidency is his birthright, like he's the heir to the throne.
  • He saw the types of material that was coming in for me, the types of characters that I was being sought after to play, and he wanted me to be able to fulfill my dream of having a leading role in a film where it was about a driven, independent young woman who was looking for a kind of self-fulfillment that was independent of external things like a relationship. She's just a girl who is trying to be the best version of herself, and so he thought, Why not take this into our own hands? So when he wrote this character, not only was it fulfilling the dream role I wanted to play, but it was also—since he's my brother and we're very close and nobody really knows you better than your family—tailor-made for me to play to my strengths as an actor and to really allow them to shine.
  • Glenn Kenny of The New York Times praised the film as 'fleet, sweet and often genuinely funny.' Kenny wrote Candy Jar 'honors young people of intellectual achievement while also making sharp points about class and educational standards. The two young leads, Jacob Latimore and Sami Gayle, are deft at playing brainy, and Helen Hunt, Christina Hendricks and Uzo Aduba offer solid adult support; Ms. Hunt is particularly effective as a sympathetic guidance counselor.' Jeffrey Lyles of Lyles Movie FilesDirector gave praise, saying 'Ben Shelton does a terrific job of making something so potentially routine and boring as debate clubs interesting. Shelton has a clear understanding of the genre and liberally tosses in some fun split screens, close-ups and dynamic presentations of the debates to make them more exciting.' Joe Reid of also gave a positive review, saying 'between Hunt, Aduba, and Hendricks, the acting level for a movie of this caliber is uncommonly high. This is highly watchable movie that doesn't break any new ground but will, at worst, make you think of a good half-dozen other great movies like it.'
  • Netflix finally made a high school comedy about the debate team The star-studded 'Candy Jar' is earnest as hell.
  • Candy Jar is about the intense rivalry between two debate champions, Lona (Sami Gayle) and Bennett (Jacob Latimore). They are lifelong rivals who can’t stand each other... for no good reason. Their moms, Amy (Christina Hendricks) and Julia (Uzo Aduba), were high school rivals, and the women passed that along to their children. The rivalry between Lona and Bennett never feels real. It’s like watching two puppies compete for attention. The lack of tension in their relationship makes the machinations of the characters transparent. By the end of their first scene, you already know where they’ll be by the end of the film.The contrived foundation of the Lona-Bennett dynamic threatens to drag the film down. Gayle and Latimore have enough chemistry to carry the film until the story picks up steam in its second half. The movie sinks or swims on their shoulders. The adults in the movie are mostly cardboard characters elevated by strong actors, but only Helen Hunt’s counselor Ms. Kathy makes an impact. Aduba and Hendricks sell their scenes when called upon, but they aren’t given much to do. And the less said about Mr. Johnson (Paul Tigue), the better. Mr. Johnson is the requisite wacky teacher. He speaks primarily in movie quotes and it’s eye-rolling.
  • Candy Jar is ultimately hamstrung by its script, by Chad Klitzman, which lacks wit and anything close to a surprise. The story is predictable at every turn and occasionally elevated by the cast. It’s not bad, it just lacks a spark. That said, there are a couple of moments that stand out, particularly in the climactic debate. When Klitzman and director Ben Shelton aim for an emotional moment, they hit the mark more often than not. 'Candy' turns out to be the most apropos way to describe Candy Jar. It’s reliably sweet and empty, a fine choice for anyone looking for a light option.

🤖Candy Jar Reddit Talks

Candy Jar: A Sweet and Touching Teen Romance Drama

Candy Jar is a 2018 American romantic comedy film directed by Ben Shelton and starring Sami Gayle and Jacob Latimore. The screenplay concerns a dueling high school debate champion duo trying to get into the colleges of their dreams. The film was released on April 27, 2018, on Netflix.

Positive Reviews:

  • “Candy Jar is a surprisingly sweet and touching teen romance drama that goes down easy and had me craving seconds.”
  • “Candy Jar is a funny, entertaining movie about two high school seniors on the debate team, a boy and a girl who are both obsessed with getting into Harvard.”
  • “The film is well-acted, the characters are relatable, and the story is engaging. I highly recommend Candy Jar.”

Negative Reviews:

  • “Candy Jar is a clichéd and predictable teen romance that offers nothing new.”
  • “The film is too long and the pacing is slow. I found myself getting bored halfway through.”
  • “The characters are unlikable and the dialogue is cringe-worthy.”

Overall Consensus:

Candy Jar is a well-made teen romance drama that will appeal to fans of the genre. However, some viewers may find the film too clichéd and predictable.

Topics Discussed on Reddit:

  • Accuracy of the debate scenes: Some Redditors questioned the accuracy of the debate scenes in Candy Jar, while others defended them.
  • The “Harvard Full Ride” debate: Some Redditors debated whether or not the “Harvard Full Ride” scholarship offered to the main character was realistic.
  • The characters: Redditors had mixed opinions on the characters in Candy Jar. Some found them relatable, while others found them unlikable.
  • The ending: Redditors also debated the ending of Candy Jar. Some found it satisfying, while others found it unrealistic.

Overall, Candy Jar is a well-made teen romance drama that will appeal to fans of the genre. However, some viewers may find the film too clichéd and predictable.

Top discussions

❓ Frequently Asked Questions

Is Candy Jar worth watching?

Candy Jar is definitely worth watching for those who enjoy romantic comedies with a focus on teenage love, growing up, and the pressures of college admissions. The rapid dialogue and cute chemistry between the characters make it an enjoyable and fun movie to watch.

What is the plot of Candy Jar?

Candy Jar is a 2018 American romantic comedy film directed by Ben Shelton, starring Sami Gayle and Jacob Latimore. The film revolves around a pair of high school debate champions striving to get into their dream colleges, while navigating their relationship and personal challenges. The screenplay presents a story of ambition, love, and self-discovery as the characters pursue their goals.

Why is Candy Jar rated TV 14?

Candy Jar has been rated TV 14 due to the presence of four strong profanities and several obscenities, including one “f” word. Additionally, there is a brief reference to drug use in the movie, which contributes to the rating.

Do Lona and Bennett end up together?

Yes, Lona and Bennett end up together in Candy Jar. Despite losing the state championship, they come to a mutual agreement to be a couple. The movie hints at their future as they prepare for prom night, revealing Lona’s acceptance into Yale and Bennett’s acceptance into Harvard, solidifying their bond and shared accomplishments.

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