A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Birdboy: The Forgotten Children is an extremely edgy animated movie from Spain that's based on a graphic novel. Though the characters are drawn to appear cute, this is a very mature film. Characters use (fictional) drugs frequently -- including pills, powders, and injections -- and there are signs of addiction and suggestions of drug dealing. There's also lots of violence, with guns and shooting, brutal attacks, fighting, several bloody wounds, and bleeding. One scene illustrates a kind of nuclear blast that wipes out both characters and vegetation, and many other scenes are simply unsettling and nightmarish. Characters kiss, and a girl mouse is shown showering and putting on a bra and panties. Language includes subtitled uses of "s--t" and "hell." It's not for everyone, but it has moments of great beauty and, for older viewers, it can be a rewarding experience.
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What's the story?
In BIRDBOY: THE FORGOTTEN CHILDREN, Dinky (voiced by Andrea Alzuri), a mouse, wants to leave her miserable, wasted island home, where the main way to get by is picking through the junkyard. She has concocted a plan to raise money with her two friends, Sandra (a bunny) and Little Fox, and escape. She wants to bring her mysterious friend Birdboy (Pedro Rivero) with her, but he's been missing lately. It turns out that Birdboy is being hunted for reasons having to do with his father, and he's also addicted to pills. Dinky, Little Fox, and Sandra realize that they don't have enough coins to buy their freedom, so they stop and steal money from a fisher pig and his strange, addicted mother. But as Dinky's chances of leaving grow ever dimmer, Birdboy makes a startling discovery. If only he has enough time left to share it with Dinky.
Is it any good?
This unsettling Spanish animated movie's adorable characters may make it seem kid-friendly, but it's not -- it's nightmare fuel, but it's also quite striking in many ways. Winner of a Goya Award and based on a graphic novel, Birdboy: The Forgotten Children is immediately off-putting, given that most viewers are used to seeing cute characters in cute movies, rather than anything quite like this dark vision. But once you're settled in, this surprising effort offers great rewards.
Filmmakers Pedro Rivero and Alberto Vázquez create simplistic but striking images, alternating moments that are disturbing and brutal with other moments that are wondrous and inventive. Nasty, fighting trash-diggers alternate with a weird, kind little walking alarm clock robot. Images of Birdboy dealing with his addiction trade off with breathtaking moments of his learning to fly. Even the darkest moments, such as bird-shaped monsters or inner demons trying to cause chaos, are matched by moments of incredible beauty, light, and hope. Still, this one is only for older teens and up.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Birdboy: The Forgotten Children's depiction of drug use and drug addiction. What is the movie trying to say about substance use? Are drugs glorified? Are there consequences for these actions?
Did any of the movie's imagery seem shocking when contrasted with the cute animal characters? If so, why?
How would you describe the movie's violence? How frequently do you see bloody violence in animated movies? Is it more shocking than in a live-action movie?
Did you notice any examples in the movie of characters being wrongly judged? Have you ever wrongly judged anyone, or been wrongly judged yourself?
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