A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Chloe & Theo is a 2015 movie about an Inuit man named Theo who, at the behest of his elders, leaves "the North" (Nunavut) for "the South" (New York City), where he is to find the leaders of the rest of the world and alert them about the impending environmental apocalypse as both prophesied by Theo's forefathers and observed firsthand in the changes of his land. There are positive messages about saving the environment from climate change and the effect individuals, nonprofits, and corporations can have on bringing about positive change. Someone is stabbed to death by muggers and left for dead in a pool of his own blood, and an attempted mugging by a knife-wielding criminal is narrowly averted. One character is always holding and drinking from a brown-bagged bottle of booze, and another character makes reference to once being a junkie.
What's the story?
Theo Ikummaq is an Inuit who lives near the arctic circle. Because he was educated in a school taught by those from "the South," he is asked by his elders to speak to the leaders of the rest of the world to warn them of a terrible prophecy that has been passed down from generation to generation called the "Story of the Angry Sun," in which the sun wreaks havoc on the earth due to mankind's exploitation and overuse of the earth's resources. The elders buy Theo a ticket to New York City, where he begins his search. As Theo walks around Manhattan taking in his new and strange surroundings, he meets Cleo (Dakota Johnson), a street-smart homeless girl who saves Theo from being mugged. Cleo immediately recognizes him as "an Eskimo," and while initially skeptical of Theo's story and overall mental well-being, she begins to be convinced by Theo's earnest persistence. With the help of homeless friends with whom she shares food, money, and a living space, they take Theo to the United Nations, where he, Cleo, and the others are immediately arrested -- but not before Theo's story is overheard by Monica (Mia Sorvino), a wealthy and connected entrepreneur and philanthropist who rescues them from jail and joins the cause. With Monica arranging meetings with green-friendly companies and benefactors to enlist their help in spreading Theo's message, Cleo begins to see what she might be capable of when she channels her passion in the right direction, as her humble and kindhearted friend is on the verge of being given the opportunity to warn "the South" about his melting land and the environmental havoc his forefathers have been predicting for generations.
Is it any good?
A message as simple and profound as the one conveyed in Chloe & Theo should not be hindered by clichéd characters, awkward dialogue, and a heavy-handed story line. But, unfortunately, that is exactly what is happening in this movie. There is a street-smart young homeless girl who happens to notice that Theo is "an Eskimo" from 50 yards away on a busy Manhattan sidewalk. There is a well-connected entrepreneur partial to progressive causes who happens to be in the United Nations visitors' center lobby as Theo tries to convey his dire Inuit prophecy to security guards who think he is mentally disturbed. Television is bad; ditto materialism, overconsumption, and waste. The frenzied chaos of contemporary urban life has disconnected us from ourselves, each other, and our planet, in marked contrast to the blissfully basic and resourceful behaviors of indigenous people, who are perpetually in tune with the rhythms of the universe.
Though no one should be jaded and cynical about the film's overall message of the power each individual has to bring about positive change in the world, Chloe & Theo falls short in being the ideal vehicle in which to present this message. It's difficult to imagine anyone being converted to the cause of stopping the factors causing climate change as a direct result of watching this movie, even as you can't help but root for Theo, who is the most likable and dignified character in the entire movie. Unfortunately, the universal resonance of the message is lost in the worn-out clichés of a forced story line.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's message. How is this message conveyed through both the characters and the story?
Initially, this movie was intended to be a documentary; in actuality, Theo Ikummaq is a conservation officer in the Nunavut territory who made the rounds of Hollywood parties in search of benefactors to help get out his message about what climate change is doing to his homeland. How would this movie be different had it been a documentary on the actual experiences of Ikummaq and those (among them, Richard Branson) who were inspired by his message to help him?
What are some other movies that discuss the ways in which climate change, overconsumption, and environmental degradation are having a negative impact on our planet?
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