A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ella Bella Bingo is an animated movie from Norway, redubbed for English-speaking audiences. The film is based on a Norwegian children's television series and is the first Ella Bella feature-length tale. The title character is an exuberant little girl who adores her neighbors (both old and young), her family, her picturesque small town, and most of all, the boy who is her very best friend. This story introduces a new member of the community: a lad who immediately monopolizes Ella's best friend's attention. Being a good friend, coping with jealousy, and accepting others are strong themes. Viewers can expect to see a bull chasing kids, some potentially frightening images (ghosts, skeletons) in an amusement park haunted house, comic falls/crashes, and multiple dog farts. While the movie is intended for younger kids, there are some moments that may be too scary for those who are not yet comfortable with real versus imaginary action.
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What's the story?
In ELLA BELLA BINGO, Ella (Summer Fontana) is playing with her very best friend, Henry (Jack Fisher). On a beautiful day in their beautiful town, Ella has a great idea (and when Ella Bella has a great idea, she always shouts "Bingo!"). She and Henry and some of their other friends could create their own circus! They could make costumes, rehearse wonderful acts, and invite everybody, and it will be wonderful. Ella and Henry get grown-ups involved, too: funny grown-ups, noisy grown-ups, even a grown-up with his own pet chickens. Just as plans are underway, a new boy arrives in town. Johnny (Ben Plessala) is staying in a very big house and seems to have every possible thing a boy could want. Johnny is eager to share his good fortune with Henry, and Henry is awed! So awed that he almost forgets completely about having a circus. Ella is furious. Henry is her best friend, after all. An Ella-Johnny rivalry develops, and while the circus preparations go on, Henry gets pushed and pulled in two different directions. It's too much for Henry, and when he disappears, it's an all-out adventure to find him.
Is it any good?
Inventive animation and wonderfully eccentric characters of all ages combine with a relatable story, fun music, and solid messages to bring this charming Norwegian tale to English-speaking audiences. Ella Bella Bingo is bright, spirited, smart, and original. The acting is uniformly terrific. It's especially delightful to see all of the adult actors (e.g., Richard Kind and Tress Macneille) fully commit to the material. Recommended for families to watch together as long as the younger kids are comfortable with some cartoon action.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the messages in Ella Bella Bingo. What did Ella learn about being a good friend? What did she learn about what happens when you try to keep someone all to yourself?
In the beginning, Johnny seemed like he was bragging all the time. What did you (and Ella) learn about Johnny that helped you understand his behavior?
It's hard to move to a new town or neighborhood. Can you imagine or have you ever experienced how scary it is? What does the word "welcoming" mean? How can kids make a newcomer feel accepted? Be specific in your answer.
There is a song about relationships: "Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other, gold." What does this mean? Do you think it's true? Why?
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