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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Boy and the World is a Brazilian animated adventure with virtually no dialogue -- but you don't need words to follow this beautiful story of a young country boy searching for his father in the big city so his family can be reunited. There's no overly questionable content (though the boy does face some mild peril, and the family's separation could certainly be upsetting for younger/more sensitive kids), but there are some mature themes and overtones that are likely to go over little kids' head -- i.e. the tension between city life and country life (and the sometimes overwhelming nature of being in a big city), the struggle to make a living in an increasingly industrial world, environmental perils, etc. On the other hand, kids will definitely relate to the desire for a family reunion and having all loved ones nearby.
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What's the story?
BOY AND THE WORLD follows a young boy who lives in the quiet countryside with his parents on their family farm. They have a close-knit little family, and things are fine until the boy sees big machines pop up on the horizon, spewing out black smoke. Eventually the boy's father heads to the city in search of work, and the boy, unwilling to see his family separated, follows him. The boy ends up on a journey to find his father that expands his world from his rural hometown to the big, sometimes-scary city with its parades and crowded living environments, slums, and factories.
Is it any good?
Brazilian animator Ale Abreu's hand-drawn animated tale is a beautiful, original story that's socially relevant but also sweetly entertaining for families. At first it might seem disconcerting that no one is speaking an understandable language, but dialogue is unnecessary. Audiences can easily fill in what everyone is saying/meaning, and Boy and the World's visuals and evocative score make up for the lack of language. As the boy travels in pursuit of his father, he realizes just how different the rest of the world is from his perceived paradise of a quiet farm town.
Abreu's hand-drawn style has a child-like quality that should entice younger viewers. The vivid palette, combined with the soaring Brazilian music, make the boy's journey a powerful one, because all he wants is his father back home. This is the kind of story begging to be analyzed for its multiple layers, so parents and kids (depending on their ages) can have several different conversations about all of the film's themes and imagery. But the boy's desire for his father is ultimately most compelling -- and how his journey takes him to places where he sees the extremes in which people can live is eye opening ... not just for the boy, but for viewers, too.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the boy's journey in Boy and the World. Why do you think adventures about kids on a mission are so popular? What are some lessons the boy learns on his voyage? Who helps him along the way?
How does the animation in Boy and the World mirror the boy's growing world? How does the animated city he encounters compare to his rural hometown?
How is this movie different from mainstream Hollywood animated films? Is it just the style, or are there other things that set it apart?
- In theaters: December 11, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: July 5, 2016
- Director: Ale Abreu
- Studio: GKIDS
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Great Boy Role Models
- Character Strengths: Courage, Perseverance
- Run time: 83 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: thematic material and images
- Awards/Honors: Common Sense Seal
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