The DVD of Chrissa Stands Strong

Chrissa Stands Strong is a movie retelling the stories of Chrissa Maxwell.


  • Sammi Hanratty as Chrissa Maxwell
  • Adair Tishler as Tara James
  • Ariela Barer as Sonali Matthews
  • Kaitlyn Dever as Gwen Thompson
  • Shelby Harmon as Jayden Johnson
  • Uncredited as Amanda
  • Annabeth Gish as Meg "Mom" Maxwell
  • Timothy Bottoms as Paul "Dad" Maxwell
  • Michael Learned as Louise "Nana" Hanlon
  • Austin Thomas as Tyler Maxwell
  • Joanne Baron as Mrs. Ziminsky
  • Jennifer Tilly as Mrs. Rundell
  • Don Franklin as Mr. Beck
  • Jennifer Parsons as Janine Thompson
  • Kaylin Stewart as Alexandra
  • Christian Pikes as Joel
  • Grace Rolek as Hayley
  • Preston/Tyler Strother as Brock
  • Ashley Ausburn as Rachel


Director: Martha Coolidge

Screenplay by: Christine Coyle Johnson and Julie Prendeville Roux


Chrissa Maxwell and her family move from Iowa to Minnesota in order to be closer to Chrissa's grandmother, Louise "Nana" Hanlon, after the death of Chrissa's grandfather. At her new school, Chrissa has difficulty making friends and soon finds herself bullied by Tara James, Sonali Matthews and Jayden Johnson, a trio of girls called the Mean Bees.

Chrissa tries to befriend another girl, Gwen Thompson, who is also being bullied by Tara, Sonali and Jayden. Gwen avoids Chrissa at first, but Chrissa later finds out that Gwen avoided her because she was homeless and ashamed of it; Chrissa and Gwen then become best friends. Later, Gwen told Chrissa in the music room that her mom got a job and they're moving into an apartment. Tara, Jayden, and Sonali overheard the conversation between them. Gwen asked Chrissa to cut her bangs for her in the bathroom. Tara, Jayden, and Sonali came in and Tara offered Gwen to cut it for her. She purposely did a terrible job, telling Gwen she really looks like a homeless person. Gwen got mad at Chrissa because she thinks that Chrissa told Tara that Gwen is homeless. The other girls are sent to the principal's office by Mrs. Ziminsky, who demands the truth. Tara lies and says that Chrissa told her about Gwen being homeless; Jayden also lies and says that she didn't see anything. However, Sonali tells Mrs. Ziminsky the truth about what happened. The principal suspends Tara, Sonali and Jayden - Tara for 3 days, and Sonali and Jayden for only a day. After her suspension, Sonali apologizes to Gwen about all the mean things she has done to her, and leaves Tara and Jayden, then befriending Chrissa and Gwen.

After the incident, the bullying gets more intense. Posters and rumors about Chrissa on the Internet are passed around by Tara and Jayden. Chrissa quits her school swim team as a result of being picked on, as well as an incident that involved her older brother, Tyler. Chrissa gets advice from Mrs. Rundell, her art teacher, to tell her parents about the bullying. After she tells her parents, they reply that sometimes, bullies are mean, because they want to feel better about themselves, and try to do so by insulting others and putting them down.

With her newfound confidence, Chrissa and her friends show everyone that they are happy with who they are by doing fun things such as wearing homemade painted headbands. Their happiness and confidence annoys Tara and Jayden, but the girls did not care. Chrissa decides to do a project to make people aware that many kids are bullied, which Tara begrudgingly knows to have something to do with her, and rejoins the swim team. The big swim competition approaches, and she realizes that she and Tara have to work together if they want to win the relay. Although Tara is reluctant, Chrissa assures her that though they may not be best friends, they can still work together to win. Their teamwork earns them their victory, and they reconcile and hug.

The 4th grade class present their project about how bullying affects everyone and how friendship can overcome bullying. One of Chrissa's best friends, Amanda, visits her for the summer; Amanda befriends Sonali and Gwen, and the four become best friends.

Movie/Book Differences

Character Differences

  • In the movie, Sonali does not begin to regret her actions as a bully until she starts to befriend Chrissa. In the book, she is disturbed by the bullying from the start.
  • Jadyn has straight blonde hair and brown eyes in the movie while in the book, she has curly brown hair and jade-green eyes.
  • In the movie, Tara is implied to be the cyberbully. In the book, Tara is unaware of the cyberbullying and Jadyn is eventually revealed to be the culprit.
  • In the books, Sonali, Jadyn, and Gwen are on the swim team. In the movie, they only come to the meets.
    • Also in the books, Gwen was soon forced to quit the team due to not being a strong swimmer. Afterwards, she became Mr. Beck's coaching assistant for the younger children. This never happens in the film.
  • In the movie, the spelling of Jadyn's name is changed to "Jayden".
  • In the book, Chrissa is left-handed, while in the movie, she's right-handed.
  • In the book, Chrissa asks Mr. Beck to let her switch seats so that she can sit with Gwen and Sonali, and he grants her request. In the movie, Mr. Beck comes up with the idea himself after discussing Tara's bullying with Mrs. Ziminsky. The next day, he informs Tara and Jayden that they must switch seats with two other students, and then informs Gwen that he’s moving her to Cluster 4, where Chrissa and Sonali are sitting, much to her delight.
  • In the movie, Starburst is born in winter. In the books, she is born in the summer. Also, Chrissa named her Starburst in the books because she just "burst into the scene", while in the movie, Chrissa and Tyler named her Starburst because their grandfather wanted that name.
  • Nana's cat, Sonali's dad, Jadyn's parents, and Tara's mom don't appear in the movie, though Tara's mom is mentioned.
  • In the movie, it is implied that Joel is Tyler's age (grade 5), whereas in the books, he is in Chrissa's 4th grade class.
  • In the books, Gwen's father abandoned her and her mother, leading to their later homelessness. In the film, it's implied that Gwen's father passed away.

Plot Differences

  • In the movie, Chrissa and Tara make a truce to allow their swim team to win. After this, Tara seems to reconsider her actions and try to reform. In the books, Tara takes the initiative to try to befriend Chrissa and Gwen, although she still accuses Chrissa of "stealing Sonali". There is no swim meet scene like in the film.
  • Tara dares Tyler in the movie to get at Chrissa; in the books, Tara and Chrissa are already friends when she dares Tyler. Chrissa prompts this by muttering that someone should teach him a lesson for boasting about his dive and Tara takes it up. However, she is not as malicious as she is in the film.
  • The Solidarity Scarves only appear near the end of Chrissa, but they are more prominent in the movie.
  • Chrissa briefly quits the swim team in the movie; this is not present in the books.
  • In the books, Tyler gets a concussion after he hits his head on the diving board; this is not present in the movie.

Television Release

The movie premiered on HBO on January 5th, 2009.

DVD Release

The DVD was released on January 6th, 2009 through the website and various retailers.

Items Associated With the Movie



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