Tito and the Birds

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
Tito and the Birds Movie Poster Image
Boy fights an epidemic in dark, scary animated tale.
  • NR
  • 2019
  • 73 minutes

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

Positive Messages

Pay attention to nature. As we destroy our planet, it's trying to tell us something. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Tito is a brave boy who wants to honor his father and listen to nature's message.

Violence

Kids fall from high places but don't get seriously injured. They're chased by bad guys. A scientist is kidnapped and turned into a bird to prevent him from getting in the way of a big business deal. The "anti-panic patrol," men in hazmat suits, roam the city spraying ominous green stuff and, oddly, causing panic. We see people succumb in real time to the virus, as their eyes bulge, limbs shrink, and their bodies contract into immobile oval lumps.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Tito and the Birds, the Brazilian 2018 animated Oscar entry, features a young scientifically minded boy who's trying to harness the wisdom of birds to help humanity conquer a rapidly spreading epidemic. The animation is striking and attractive, but it doesn't do anything to mask scary moments that might worry younger viewers. We see people succumb in real time to the virus, as their eyes bulge, their limbs shrink, and their bodies contract into immobile oval lumps, which may be too scary for younger kids. The "anti-panic patrol," men in hazmat suits, roam the city spraying ominous green stuff and, oddly, causing panic. Kids fall from high places but don't get seriously injured. They're chased by bad guys. A scientist is kidnapped and turned into a bird to prevent him from getting in the way of a big business deal.

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What's the story?

In TITO AND THE BIRDS, Sousa (Matheus Solano), an opportunistic real estate developer and TV personality, arranges for a dangerous virus to circulate. He broadcasts details of the terrible symptoms, drumming up fear in his quest to stir sales of condos in his sealed-off, supposedly safe, domed property. ("Avoid everything!" he advises.) Young Tito (Pedro Henrique) has worked to resuscitate his scientist father's machine, built to teach us the language of birds, who supposedly want to save humanity. Tito and his dad believe that birds have the wisdom of nature and are trying to guide us, so learning to understand them is crucial to saving the human race from fear, disease, and, no doubt, global warming, wars, and other social ills. When Sousa learns the machine might cure the disease, he kidnaps Tito's dad and turns him into a bird. Tito's friend Buyu comes down with the disease and the symptoms manifest quickly. Can Tito save his dad, his friend, and all of humanity?

Is it any good?

This film is a laudable visual achievement, and watching oil paints in motion, manipulated through digital artistry, carries a viewer through a well-meaning but undercooked plot. The plot device of an infectious disease cynically used by a real estate mogul to boost business will resonate these days and may provide an opening for discussions about what's on young minds right now: an epidemic of both disease and fear.

Tito and the Birds was first released in 2018, when Brazil had elected a far right-wing president with fear-mongering strategies. The premise that birds -- street pigeons, specifically -- hold the solutions to our problems seems a stretch. And as the plot rolls along and tensions rise, that wobbly premise feels less and less able to sustain our belief. We don't know why birds have the answers, and when the cure comes, it's not clear how the birds were able to help us, apart from singing. In what world does singing cure disease?

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the messages of Tito and the Birds. What does it want viewers to take away from the story? What are some ways kids and parents can make a difference in the world?

  • How is fear a normal part of life? How does the TV personality promote fear to help his business?

  • Why does the movie focus on birds as the cure for a widespread disease?

  • Do you think Tito is a positive role model? Why or why not? What qualities does he display that are admirable?

Movie details

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