A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Adventure of Jojo (And His Little Sister Avila) is a 2014 movie about a boy who must take care of his infant sister after a car accident and get them back to their grandmother's house. The opening disclaimer reads, "This is not a film for overprotective parents." That opening disclaimer sets the tone for the movie, and it's a tone that seems determined to troll said "overprotective parents." In other words, you the viewer must be some kind of hyper-sensitive PC-fuddy duddy not to find humor in scenes in which: a young boy and an infant somehow end up on top of a wolf trap and nearly get trapped, getting chased by wolves, nearly drowning, a little boy fond of "pissing on bugs and critters" urinating on adults, a young boy feeding his baby sister worms, the baby sister eating a snail off the ground (shell and all, even if she does spit out the shell a bit later), and tasting and getting hit by baby feces. A "hobo," who gets hit with little-boy urine and little-baby feces, is a human punchline (he doesn't have a home and is therefore not very bright) and yells punchlines like, "I am not a toilet!" A young boy uses words like "pissing," sucks," "Jesus." Also, for some reason, guys who look like they might be in a mafia movie take someone out of their trunk in a garbage bag, hit him a few times with baseball bats, then throw him into the river. Perhaps this would all be bearable for some if the acting wasn't cringe-worthy and the story was more concerned with story rather than shock value. Also, irony of ironies, for all the movie's lamenting of the days when kids ran wild and had more freedom, if the mother and kids in the car accident had not been wearing their seatbelts in the "real world," they would have been gravely injured, if not killed.
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What's the story?
In THE INCREDIBLE ADVENTURE OF JOJO (AND HIS ANNOYING LITTLE SISTER AVILA) JoJo goes to visit his grandmother out in the country with his mother and baby sister. His grandmother gives him a pocketknife as a gift. On the drive home, the mother loses control of the vehicle and crashes in a ditch. The mother is unconscious and presumed dead. With his pocketknife, JoJo cuts his seatbelt and gets out of the car with Avila. Carrying Avila and taking what he believes to be the necessary supplies for survival, young JoJo tries to go back to his grandmother's house to alert her of the accident. This adventure leads JoJo and Avila into near-deaths involving sitting on wolf traps, pursuit by an irate "hobo" who JoJo urinated on, pursuit by wolves, and near-drowning. As the grandmother begins to worry, a search party forms, but it's up to JoJo to survive the forest's many dangers and return himself and his infant sister to safety.
Is it any good?
This movie may have had good intentions but it fails on every level. It's easy to understand why someone might want to make a movie like this. The Adventure of Jojo (And His Little Sister Avila) seems to be pining for the carefree childhoods of the '70s and '80s, of helmet-less BMX and skateboard rides, road trips without seatbelts in the proverbial "way, way back" of smoke-filled station wagons, and going through life without a (gasp) smartphone or even a cell phone to check in every two hours. It's easy to see how some might think the parents of today are "overprotective" and that the problem, like everything in society, is a product of that old chestnut, "political correctness."
The movie feels like it's trying to "troll" so-called "overprotective parents," and that if you dislike this movie, well, you must be some kind of hyper-sensitive "snowflake" who doesn't want anything in the world to ever be offensive to anyone ever. However, it's possible not to enjoy scenes of little kids urinating on "hobos" and "bugs and critters," scenes of little kids and adults tasting or getting hit by baby feces, of an infant girl and little boy somehow ending up seated on opened wolf traps on the verge of springing and killing them, of a little boy holding his infant sister upside down by the ankles in order to retrieve a pocketknife that fell out of reach, without being "too uptight" to see the clear and obvious entertainment value. No, it's not the fault of "overprotective parents" that this movie is so awful. Incredibly bad acting, lousy production values, and a storyline more interested in shock value than a coherent storyline are the reasons.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about The Adventure of Jojo (And His Little Sister Avila)'s intention. What is its purpose? Is it successful?
How does this movie use "shock value" to attempt to entertain? How might these scenes be viewed as reactions to the "overprotective parents" the film's opening disclaimer says is not for them?
How does the movie attempt to satirize or perhaps even mock contemporary family realities of car seats, bike helmets, and safety? Is it effective?
How does the movie present the homeless? Is it a fair portrayal? Why or why not?
- On DVD or streaming: November 19, 2014
- Cast: Joseph Ogando, Avila Schmidt, Gina Plastino
- Director: Brian Schmidt
- Studio: Tree House Mafia Productions
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures
- Run time: 86 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: peril, action, scary moments, reckless behavior, crude humor, language and thematic elements - all involving children
Themes & Topics
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