A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that while this is a cartoon, it's not meant for young ones. Characters drink, smoke, gamble, leer at women, and lie. There's considerable cartoon-like violence, like kids falling long distances and lots of hitting, punching, and chasing with a mallet. No one gets hurt. And the mom of the out-of-control kids -- Bebe -- is never actually seen. She's working all the time.
What's the story?
Adapted from comic Robin Harris' stand-up comedy act, BEBE'S KIDS follows the adventures of single guy Robin (voiced by Faizon Love), who vows to get close to beautiful Jamika (Vanessa Bell Calloway). He offers to take Jamika and her son Leon (Wayne Collins Jr.) to Fun World for the day. But then all hell breaks loose, in the form of LaShawn (Jonell Green), Kahlil (Marques Houston), and Pee Wee (Ton Loc) -- Bebe's kids. They are the butt of all jokes: The family arrives at Fun World and the surly racist cop exclaims, "It's Bebe's kids!" and runs away. A whirlwind of gleeful destructive energy, Bebe's kids become the reason Robin can't get close to Jamika. Needless to say, Fun World doesn't stand a chance against them. What ensues is chaos that kids will likely enjoy and parents will relate to on some level.
Is it any good?
Bebe's Kids does have some great animated stuff for kids. In the early 1990s, Harris' stand-up captivated viewers with tales of demon children and befuddled adults. It's unfortunate that the transition from comedy act to animated big-screen movie suffers from a paper-thin plot and little character development. Nonetheless, when LaShawn takes over a pleasure cruise ride and turns it into a pirate ship, taking hostages and hurling cannonballs at another pleasure cruise, kids will cheer. While kids may be attracted to the animation and hijinx, Bebe's Kids, like The Simpsons, has mature subject matter. The sheer level of drinking, smoking, gambling, and lying earn this film its PG-13 rating.
This film's rating robs it of its audience. Sure, adults may enjoy portions of it, but do they really want to watch an hour-and-10-minute movie that's so thin that the filmmakers resort to a musical montage? Probably not. And when LaShawn sings that kids suffer from a lack of freedom, parents may quibble. What she may mean is freedom from the racism that treats innocent kids as criminals and delinquents. But these kids are essentially neglected and lack any real adult guidance. The last thing they need is more freedom to roam.
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