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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
This film is intended to entertain, not educate.
As a movie about farcical misadventure in Africa, there isn't much in the way of positive messages.
Positive Role Models
As an absurd comedy, the characters are too silly to be looked at as positive role models. Some stereotyping of Africans.
Violence & Scariness
While there are numerous scenes in which characters have close calls with lions, bears, and alligators, the special effects make it obvious to even the youngest of kids that this is only a movie.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters are constantly shown smoking cigarettes, which is accurate for the period.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Abbott and Costello: Africa Screams is a 1949 movie in which the legendary comedy duo finds themselves deep in the jungles of Africa dodging alligators, lions, bears, and cannibals. The most troubling aspect is the stereotypical portrayal of native Africans, who do little more than grunt, carry heavy objects for the white adventurers on safari, and try their best to cook Lou Costello in a boiling pot of water. Aside from this, many of the characters are frequently shown smoking cigarettes (which is accurate for the 1940s), and characters point guns at one another. The rest of the "violence" -- such as it is -- is both too slapsticky and too obviously done by, say, men wearing lion costumes, to be anything but silly. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
For fans of Abbott and Costello, ABBOTT AND COSTELLO: AFRICA SCREAMS is the kind of silly romp you would come to expect, with plenty of sight gags, one-liners, and comedic misunderstandings. For contemporary audiences, some of the humor might be a bit dated, to say nothing of the "special effects." Most troubling for modern audiences will be the portrayal of African tribesmen, who stereotypically grunt, carry heavy objects for the white explorers, and seek to eat Lou Costello, because they are cannibals.
In spite of these moments that firmly place this movie in the 1940s, there are some very silly moments, and some entertaining cameos by the likes of Shemp Howard, lion tamer Claude Beatty, and boxing brothers Max and Buddy Baer. As always, it really is wonderful to watch the comedic chemistry between Abbott and Costello. Kids who are able to see past the stereotyping and dated look will find lots to enjoy.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.