A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Fungus the Bogeyman has some very strong language for a movie geared at kids and heavy doses of anatomical and scatological humor. Language includes "hell," "f--king," "toffing," "damn," and anatomical terms like "anal," "buttocks," "bum," and "poo." Bogeys live in an underground world that thrives on filth and foul odors. When one bogey family temporarily transmutes into people, they have trouble accepting the hygiene of the human world. They eat straight out of dirty diapers, spread trash around their kitchen, add scum to their tea, and sleep in a sludge-filled bathtub. A teen calls her teacher, a priest, "Juicy Jake." A couple snuggles in bed; he reaches under the covers and says "you know what this is." Subplots involve harnessing the power of farts and burps to do both good and evil. Two menacing characters who brandish weapons will only scare the youngest of viewers. Tweens might relate to the central story of teenagers seeking their own identity, though older teens may find it corny.
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What's the story?
Based on the cult graphic novel by British writer and illustrator Raymond Briggs (which also inspired two Paul McCartney songs, Bogey Music and Bogey Wobble), FUNGUS THE BOGEYMAN is about a family of monsters, known as "bogeys," who venture into the world of humans, known as "drycleaners." The bogeys believe they have a "social contract" with the humans -- bogeys provide the "bumps in the night" humans fear (because humans crave fear), and humans in turn provide the bogey underworld with seepage from their landfills. But when bogey teenager Mould (Haydon Downing), curious about the world outside, sneaks out, his parents Fungus (Timothy Spall) and Mildew (Joanna Scanlan) must leave their deliriously-filthy underworld and temporarily mutate into human form. Here they befriend their human neighbors, try to adapt to the sanitary world outside, and face unanticipated dangers from an inventor with a secret past (Victoria Wood).
Is it any good?
If your tween finds farting and burping endlessly funny, look no further for your next family night film. Fungus the Bogeyman has both in spades, as well as plenty of gross-out humor involving underworld, Shrek-like monsters (called bogeys) who slather themselves in filth, vomit on each other, and enjoy smelling each other's most odorous body parts and functions. Word play ("my drear," "I stink therefore I am") and solid animation also offer some hooks. Fortunately for the adults in the room, who will tire of bogey humor faster than you can say "jockstrap," the hideous monsters must at least temporarily try to improve their health and hygiene standards when they enter the human world.
And, not to be species-centric, but the film gains in nuance and depth in the human world, set in England. The neighbors (played by Marc Warren, Keeley Hawes, and Fern Deacon) are a middle-class family struggling to make ends meet with the kind-hearted husband unemployed. Their teen daughter has a crush on the local cool kid and is perpetually embarrassed by her parents, not unlike the bogey teen Mould, who feels he doesn't fit in underground. He's "dry-curious," a term latent with double meaning, who is interested in exploring the human ("drycleaners") world. Ultimately, the underlying sweetness of the main characters and the affable resolution of teen angst make Fungus watchable for tweens and adults alike.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how authentic the monsters are in Fungus the Bogeyman. Do they remind you of any creatures you've seen in other movies?
Could you relate to Mould's desire to learn about the world outside his family home? Did he seem like a normal teenager, even in bogey form?
In what ways are the human world and the bogey world different and alike? How are they reliant on each other?
- On DVD or streaming: December 27, 2015
- Cast: Timothy Spall, Joanna Scanlan, Keeley Hawes, Marc Warren
- Director: Catherine Morshead
- Studio: Imaginarium Productions
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 82 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: October 17, 2019
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