A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Lionheart is a Nigerian comedy directed by and starring Genevieve Nnaji, one of the country's most famous film stars. Partly in English, partly in Igbu with subtitles, it tells the story of Adaeze (Nnaji), a woman bucking the male-dominated corporate world. The importance of family, integrity, and concern for others are at the heart of the movie's story. Subject matter and themes may have little interest for younger kids, but teens should find the colorful, cosmopolitan female-power tale illuminating and fun. One punch is thrown, the word "s--t" is heard twice, and lecherous men make a couple of passes at Adaeze -- which she fields with grace. This is Nnaji's directorial debut, and although the storyline doesn't break new ground, the cosmopolitan African setting makes it feel more original.
What's the story?
Adaeze Obiagu (Genevieve Nnaji) is her dad's right-hand "man" in LIONHEART. Ernest Obiagu (Pete Edochie), Adaeze's dad, has a reputation for integrity and wisdom; the motto of Lionheart Transportation, his successful bus company, is "comfort and safety." When Ernest suffers a heart attack at an important meeting, Adaeze believes her dad will let her assume leadership of Lionheart while he recovers. She's stunned and hurt to discover that instead, he's handing the reins temporarily to his good-natured brother Godswill (Nkem Owah). Godswill has his own way of running the company, and initially Adaeze feels completely devalued. But when she and Godswill find out that the company isn't as prosperous as they thought, they're both devastated. A gigantic loan must be repaid within 30 days. Putting all else aside, the two must work together to raise the money and save Lionheart from the clutches of a greedy, corrupt competitor.
Is it any good?
This upbeat, colorful look at a bustling Nigerian city with terrific performances and multiple messages about family, persevering, and females striving is welcome viewing for worldwide audiences. Foregoing "romcom" in favor of a love story about family, Genevieve Nnaji, who is the star and one of the film's writers, makes an impressive appearance on the growing list of international female directors. Her heroine is thrown into an age-old dilemma: You can't pay the rent, you must pay the rent. But after going through the usual motions -- banks, old friends, competitors -- Adaeze has to be clever, prodigious, and charming. The offbeat uncle whom she initially sees as a threat is, in fact, also clever, prodigious, and charming, and their very different styles are fun to watch. Lionheart is Netflix's first Nigerian film; it's a deserving addition to their list.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how movies set in other countries and/or time periods have special value for young viewers. What usually comes to mind when you think of Africa? Were you familiar with Nigeria before you saw this film? How did Lionheart change any earlier attitudes or knowledge you had about the country or its continent? What surprised you?
How did Adaeze's experience mirror the experience of women in the U.S.? What did her family relationships have in common with those in your world?
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