Tru Confessions was based on a novel by Janet Tashjian and was adapted into a DCOM with the dream writing and directing team of Stu Krieger and Paul Hoen, respectively. Add in a sensitive score from Mason Daring and convincing performances from the entire cast, and this is truly a DCOM to remember. Clara Bryant won a Young Artist Award for her portrayal of Trudy Walker, a big sister with dreams of a career in the entertainment industry. She enters a filmmaking contest and decides to tell the story of her family life, focusing on her twin brother, Eddie (Shia LaBeouf), who has a developmental disability.
Tru and Eddie’s parents struggle to connect with the kids in their own ways. Their dad is a busy doctor who comes home for dinner and loses his cool when Eddie drops dishes. Their mom tries, but fails, to encourage Tru through the challenges of her daily life. DCOMs of the early aughts (and the late ’90s) were ahead of their time technologically, and Tru’s life is influenced in that regard. She uses a camcorder to shoot footage for her film, editing the whole thing herself. She logs onto a website for family members and caregivers, looking for someone to talk to about her unique life and struggles. Tru’s mom masquerades as a stranger on the site who gives her advice and comforting messages. The more I think about it, I find this dynamic both compassionate and unsettling. Ginny can’t find the right words to help her daughter, so she tries an alternate route for communication that initially proves helpful. But Tru trusts this stranger and builds confidence from the exchanges. Once she finds out it’s her mom, there is a certain amount of shock, and a breach of trust.
In this film, we see loving adults who are on their own journeys to becoming kinder, more understanding parents. We begin to comprehend Eddie’s world: the pain of upsetting his dad, the horror and panic of getting lost in a big library, the sensitivity to his twin sister’s feelings. You might remember what Tru tells Eddie once she finds him in the library: “You are different. But if you were just the same as everybody else, you wouldn’t get all that special help in school. You wouldn’t be allowed to rollerblade in the house. And you wouldn’t be the amazing brother that I love.” She shows her love with actions, too — standing up for Eddie and protecting him when bullies ridicule him.
20 years later, Tru Confessions is just as important and impactful. It’s an example of embracing families of all kinds, with storytelling that doesn’t water anything down for the kids watching at home. I believe Disney Channel Original Movies should be designed around many family scenarios, representative of a wide range of circumstances, interests, and ideas. Tru Confessions was a critical step in a direction of inclusivity for the DCOM brand. I hope you’ll watch it on Disney+ if you’ve not yet seen it.