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Motu Patlu: King of Kings
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Motu Patlu: King of Kings is part of a Nickelodeon animated TV series based on a Hindi comic strip that originated on Indian television. Motu and Patlu are great friends who get into adventures that tend to result in positive messages; in this case: Don't be afraid, save the environment, and keep trying. Motu gets energy from eating samosas the way Popeye did when he ate spinach, and these surges of energy sometimes catapult the character into flight. Although the two friends are household names in certain regions of India, the fact that the cartoons are in a strange mix of both Hindi and English and also feature English subtitles may make this a tough match for kids in the United States. Those young enough to enjoy it may not be old enough to read the titles quickly. Expect cartoon violence and scary villains. Henchmen shoot guns at animals, and several other evil emissaries attack the jungle inhabitants and their lion king. Chased by the villain's men, the king, Singa, falls off a cliff and dies.
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What's the story?
In MOTU PATLU: KING OF KINGS, Motu and Patlu (both voiced by Saurav Chakrabarty) befriend Guddu (Vinay Pathak), an escaped circus lion, and in the effort to return him to either a jungle or a national park, they discover the greedy poacher Narasimha is plotting to destroy a jungle in his quest for gold. The villain cares nothing about the many adorable animals who call the jungle home. Motu uses a special animal-human translating gizmo to communicate with Guddu and the besieged jungle inhabitants, allowing them to band together against the intruder. When the resident jungle lion, Singa, is defeated by the poacher in a battle for control of the territory, Motu suggests that the selfish and cowardly Guddu impersonate Singa to inspire and lead the other jungle animals to battle Narasimha. Guddu declines the honor but has second thoughts when he sees friends being harmed. Lots of cartoon violence and long punching and kicking fights may be too intense for younger kids.
Is it any good?
This movie is strange and overlong but not completely without its charms. Its oddness may derive from cultural differences between the way Indian TV and American TV approach topics. Motu is bent on helping those who don't necessarily seem to want his help, and kids might find that confusing. The circus lion Guddu wants to stay in the jungle, but Motu insists that he remain caged until they can transport Guddu to a National Forest, where humans will preside over him. You can't help wondering why Motu can't just honor Guddu's wishes. This pudgy, balding little button of a man is prone to producing profuse tears if he so much as sees someone else cry, but is also surprisingly combative and committed to exposing himself to danger. He takes risks to help those in need, even if outright mortal combat is involved. The mixed messages in Motu Patlu: King of Kings are a bit strange, and the violence seems a little heavy for a children's story.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why a circus lion might not enjoy life as a caged-up performer. Do you think animals might prefer freedom to the benefits of receiving regular meals from human captors?
Motu seems to gain superhuman powers from eating samosas in Motu Patlu: King of Kings, enabling him to launch himself into the air and hover and fight and kick from there. Do you think cartoons want kids to think that flying like that is really possible? Why or why not?
How is this movie different from other animal-centric animated features?