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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Loyalty to friends and family, bravery, and cunning are displayed by adults and kids alike.
Positive Role Models
Sebastian and Cesar risk their lives to save their dogs, and the dogs return the favor. Grandfather and grandson love each other deeply. Cesar's friend the mayor lends a hand to rescue Sebastian and the dogs, despite having to break laws and risk harm to himself.
Violence & Scariness
Sebastian, who is 12, wanders alone across mountaintops, balance-walking on a fallen tree branch over a ravine and nearly dying in a blizzard. Joseph pursues and threatens young Sebastian, his grandfather, and their dogs by threatening them with weapons, running Cesar off the road twice, punching the mayor in the face, and firing a shot at Belle's mother. Sebastian and Belle lock Joseph in a basement. Sebastian sees his deceased mother in a vision. Joseph dies submerged in a frozen lake.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sebastian asks his dad on his wedding night: "You already slept with her?" He replies: "You bet." Sebastian later wonders whether they'll "make babies."
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"Scumbag," "stubborn as an ass."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
People drink alcohol at a wedding party, including Sebastian and his school friend, who sneak a glass under the table. Men smoke and some are passed out on the table at the end of the wedding party.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Belle and Sebastian: Friends for Life continues the heartwarming story of a boy and his dog in the French Alps, this time as they face the threat of a sadistic gravedigger who will stop at nothing to make Belle and her puppies his own. The dangers Sebastian faces are intense, especially as the gravedigger pursues the boy and his dog, Belle, with a rifle and a knife, runs down Sebastian's grandfather in a tank-like vehicle, sends the boy into a blizzard where he nearly freezes to death and later into a graveyard to hide, and finally is sent to his own watery grave in a frozen lake. Sebastian's farewell to his grandfather at the film's end is a tearjerker, but only because it builds on the tender relationship between the two characters. The boy's mother is also seen in visions and flashbacks, including a scene where she dies birthing Sebastian. Language includes "stubborn as an ass." Sebastian asks his dad on his wedding night: "You already slept with her?" He replies: "You bet." Sebastian later wonders whether they'll "make babies." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Belle and Sebastian: Friends for Life is a film that parents and tweens can enjoy together. The French film completes a novel-based trilogy set against the war-torn 1940s and successfully combines history, location, action, and dog-driven charm. The movie is also beautifully filmed, with gorgeous aerial shots of the snowy Alps and their mountain hamlets. The tale may feel far-fetched, but the actors convey authenticity in both the action scenes and the emotional connections these characters have built together over several films.
Belle benefits especially from solid performances by 12-year-old Felix Bossuet and veteran actors Tcheky Karyo, as the hardened grandpa with a tender heart, and Andre Penvern, who lightens the mood as the town mayor. Co-star and director Clovis Cornillac, looking a lot like Leonardo DiCaprio's ravaged frontiersman in The Revenant, infuses Joseph with a sinister determination, though the film never makes clear what his deeper motivations are beyond the price he might fetch for the pups.
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.