Lena and Snowball

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Lena and Snowball Movie Poster Image
Lonely tween protects cub in cute dramedy; bullying.
  • PG
  • 2021
  • 90 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Stand up to bullies. Don't give in to peer pressure.

Positive Role Models

Lena is an artistic tween who struggles with a stutter. She's verbally and physically abused by three tween boys, but the fourth in the group, Jake, breaks with his lifelong friends after they go too far.

Violence

Some peril -- a pair of bumbling bounty hunters in search of a missing baby white lion cub invades a house, then vandalizes a tween girl's artwork before tying her up. Villain draws a gun. Police draw their guns. One of the adult bounty hunters physically attacks one of the bullies, holding him down by the throat in order to get information while also shaming him for being a bully. Tween bullies knock over a tween girl's red wagon filled with recyclables she wants to convert into artwork. The main character is verbally and physically abused by three tween boys. 

Sex

Tween boy and girl begin to develop feelings that go beyond friendship. Brief kissing, hand holding.

Language

Bullies call Lena names like "freak" and "dork" because she stutters.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Reference made to how two of the characters produce moonshine in the swamps. Brief wine drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Lena and Snowball is a family dramedy in which a tween girl named Lena (Melissa Collazo) finds a baby white lion cub (Snowball) and tries to protect it from poachers. Lena is the frequent target of three tween bullies, who call her names like "dork" and "freak," knock over the wagon full of recyclables she wants to use for her artwork, and cyberbully her with a mass text. Two bumbling bounty hunters working for a greedy poacher invade Lena's home to steal Snowball. They grab Lena, vandalize her artwork, and then tie her up and leave her before they make their escape with Snowball. One of these bounty hunters takes on one of the tween bullies, holding him by the throat while simultaneously demanding information about the cub and lecturing the boy on why he needs to stop being a bully. A bodyguard draws his gun, and police draw their guns. Brief shot of wine drinking. Reference made to how two of the characters produce moonshine in the swamps.

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What's the story?

In LENA AND SNOWBALLLena (Melissa Collazo) is a tween girl who has just moved to a small town in rural Georgia. While her single father is busy at work almost all of the time, Lena is having a tough time making friends because of her status as a "new kid," and also because of her stutter. She spends her time making art and exploring the nearby woods, and on one of her walks in the woods, she makes a new friend. This new friend is a baby white lion cub. She names the cub "Snowball," and takes it back to her house. Hot on Snowball's trail are Vincent and Steve, a pair of bumbling poachers who have been hired to kidnap and deliver the cub to Mr. Percy, a greedy and unscrupulous hunter of rare wild animals. When not taking care of Snowball and keeping him a secret from her father, Lena continues to contend with a trio of tween boy bullies who make fun of her for her stutter, but a fourth boy in the clique, Jake, begins to take a liking to Lena, and befriends her. When Jake discovers Lena's secret, he promises not to tell anyone about Snowball, but an undeleted smartphone picture soon leaks out to the community, and attracts the unwanted attention of Vincent and Steve. When Vincent and Steve arrive on Lena's doorstep, it looks like they'll succeed in bringing Snowball to Mr. Percy, but Lena is determined to rescue Snowball, with the help of Jake, who wants to make amends and prove to Lena that he's not like the other guys who bully her. The pair must find a way to rescue Snowball, ensure that justice is served to those who had greedy designs on Snowball, and find a preserve where Snowball can roam free.

Is it any good?

While undoubtedly a predictable story of the bond that forms between an escaped exotic animal and the misfit tween who loves him, Lena and Snowball manages to holds its own. These types of stories tend to be too sappy or too melodramatic, but this particular exotic animal (a baby white lion cub) and misfit tween (Lena stutters and is creative) somehow manage to find a middle ground. It helps that Snowball was not given a cutesy voiceover voice to access his baby cub thoughts, but the acting deserves a large portion of the credit. The "amateur hour" acting of the secondary characters usually doesn't hinder the action, and there's a chemistry between the lead actors that highlights the problems the characters face besides the discovery of an exotic animal far from its natural habitat -- bullying, peer pressure, budding tween romance, the work/life balance of single parents. 

One of the biggest problems in the movie lies in the pair of bumbling poachers trying to steal Snowball to deliver him to an unscrupulous hunter of rare animal species. It often seems like they're intended to be comic relief in the way the two bumbling burglars in Home Alone delivered the slapstick laughs, but these clunky moments don't quite work, and they're counterbalanced by scenes in which they invade a home, destroy Lena's artwork, and get physically and verbally violent with one of the tween bullies. Still, kids who enjoy stories about kids their age navigating challenges and adorable animals will find lots to embrace.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about bullying. What are the different types of bullying shown? How does Lena stand up for herself? Why do you think it's not easy for Jake to stop hanging around his bully friends, even as he knows that what they're doing is wrong?

  • How does the movie address the challenges of being the "new kid" in town, as well as the challenges of single parenting?

  • In what ways is the movie a comedy? How is it more like a drama? Does the movie successfully combine the two? Why or why not?

  • Why are stories about lonely kids finding lost animals so popular?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love animal tales

Themes & Topics

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