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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Fantasy adoption story meant to entertain, not educate.
Life can take surprising turns, and even though change can be scary, try to stay open to new possibilities. Don't judge people or close yourself off from them just because they seem very different. You probably have much more in common than you realize. Don't jump to conclusions about people or their circumstances; talk to them, learn about them, and try to understand them. Nothing is more important than justice. As individuals we have to treat everyone fairly, and governments or other agencies should apply the law to everyone in the same way.
Positive Role Models
Jonna, who's 8, is a good model of courage, empathy, and perseverance. Even though she's a little scared, she's curious about the strange gorilla who wants to adopt her. She learns that it's OK to make mistakes because it's part of learning. Gorilla is a great model of compassion and teamwork. She's a gentle, nurturing parent figure, loves books, and teaches Jonna how they can work together as a family. She also lets 8-year-old Jonna drive a car. The kids in the orphanage model teamwork at cleanup time. The villain lies and abuses his power on the town council because he wants to build glorious monuments honoring himself.
Main character Jonna appears to be Asian, and the kids in the orphanage have a wide range of skin colors. All of the adults in positions of authority or responsibility are White, except Gorilla, who's a gorilla. Background people around town are diverse and include lots of different skin colors. A biracial, same-sex couple are briefly seen holding hands.
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Violence & Scariness
A child is grabbed and dragged away while crying and struggling. A scuffle between adults has hitting, shoving, and pinning to the ground; Gorilla seems on the verge of taking it too far. An adult hits the villain on the back of the head with a picket sign. No injuries are shown and everything has a safe resolution.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults at a cafe drink what could be beer but isn't specified. In a restaurant, all adults at dinner have wine glasses on the table. A waiter has a wineglass on a tray. No drinking is shown.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Ape Star is a gently-paced, low-key animated fantasy from Sweden about an unlikely adoption. There's no real content of concern for preschoolers, but the subplot about the villain, his motives, and actions may be hard for them to understand. There's some brief sadness from kids in an orphanage, especially one who doesn't remember her mother, and some sadness and suspense from separation, but grief and loss aren't prominent themes and everything ends safely. There's a brief and mild scuffle between adults that shows hitting, shoving, and pinning to the ground, and a man gets hit in the back with a picket sign. In one scene adults drink what could be beer but whatever it is, it's not mentioned specifically. In a restaurant, all adult diners have wine glasses on their tables. The main character models courage, empathy, and perseverance and Gorilla is a great model of compassion and teamwork. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This animated story from Sweden about an unusual adoption is gently paced, quiet, and quirky. There's not much content of concern in Ape Star, but a couple of subplots may make it harder for preschoolers to follow. The colors used are gorgeous, and the characters and background have a lot of charm. But some viewers may not be able to get past how it almost looks like Gorilla has four eyes, for example. Or the many times the dialog isn't in sync with mouth movements. This could be because it was originally recorded in Swedish, and if it was that might also explain why some of the dialog in English is awkward and stilted, too. Early-grade viewers may not be bothered by these flaws, and those who like gentle, warmhearted stories will enjoy it as they absorb messages about finding family and home.
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.