A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ludo is a 2020 dark Bollywood action comedy in which characters' lives intertwine through fate, found money, love, infidelity, a sex tape, and a death-defying gangster. There are some violent moments, including scenes in which characters are shot at point-blank range, shantytowns explode, characters are struck and injured or killed by vehicles. A dead body is shown in a trunk with a bullet wound in the forehead. An injured man is thrown off a bridge. A man recuperating in a hospital dumps his urine on his doctor's head before striking him repeatedly on the head with the urine pot. One of the stories centers on a discovered sex tape that's starting to make the rounds on the internet featuring a man and his ex-girlfriend; characters watch the sex tape on their phones -- sex sounds are heard, no nudity. Implied sex between characters. An aspiring comedian has a routine about internet porn. Binge drinking in a bar. Cigarette smoking. Profanity, including "f--k" used several times. Overall, this is a stylized Bollywood production that explores, among other things, themes of fate, sin, and virtue.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
In LUDO, various stories intertwine, seemingly connected by an eccentric and vicious gangster who miraculously defies death at every turn. A voiceover artist and ventriloquist learns that a sex tape made with an ex-girlfriend some time ago is beginning to spread on the internet, and he must find a way to stop the spread while informing his ex, who is about to get married. A henchman who has just gotten out of prison returns home to discover that his wife has remarried and his daughter doesn't know that he's her real father, and when the stepfather gets kidnapped by the gangster because he owes him money, the henchman (with help from his resourceful daughter) uses the opportunity to reconnect with her. A flamboyant and hopelessly romantic cafe owner will do anything for the woman he loves, a married woman who has discovered that her husband has been having an affair. A bullied young department store employee inadvertently becomes ensnared in the world of the gangster, finds bags of money, and tries to flee with the money with the help of a young nurse who is also bullied at her workplace. Together, these stories explore themes of true love, infidelity, fate, sin, and virtue.
Is it any good?
Ludo is a stylized Bollywood dark action comedy that is a frenzied and anarchic exploration of, among other things, fate and love, sin and virtue. The chaos of these interconnected stories overwhelms at first, and initially seems like it could be another movie that is derivative of all things action-comedy-noir since the 1990s, but it soon takes on a life and energy of its own. It can be a challenge trying to keep all the stories straight, but once that happens, the frenzy is pure entertainment in a way we've come to expect from Bollywood. It's overblown and bombastic, and that's actually not a bad thing in this case, as the movie never loses sight of the relationships between the characters.
The filmmakers stay focused on basic human expressions and desire for love as the reason for all the stylish turmoil in the story, characters, and aesthetic. It doesn't always work, but the energy carries it through to the end. It's entertainment as a form of temporary escape from reality, something we need now more than ever. It's not for everybody, but for those willing to play along, Ludo is as crazed as it is thoughtful, and really stands out among so many movies that are drab in style and paint-by-numbers in comparison.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the different stories that comprise this movie. How do these stories connect, through the actual story, and through themes? What would be the challenges in interweaving stories like this into a coherent movie? How is the Ludo game an attempt to connect them?
How does the movie use color to define characters and create style? Does the style make it a better movie, or does it distract? Can a movie have a flashy and distinctive style and still not be good? Why or why not?
Did the sex and violence help to heighten the story and the themes, or did it seem gratuitous?
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