Reviews: Ava & Lala

We review this week's release of Ava & Lala.

Like many families with children of varying ages, we struggle with finding movies that everyone can watch together, with minimal complaints from the peanut gallery. Sometimes the answer to our prayers is an animated film with a PG rating. This category tends to be a little more grown up for the bigger kids, with humor the little ones don't quite understand, while still managing to be clean and family-friendly. With this in mind and hoping for the best, I recently settled in for a movie night, spotlighting animated PG-rated film Ava and Lala, with my 11-year old, 8-year old, and 5-year old offspring.

Ava & Lala is about a little girl (Ava) who befriends a magical creature (Lala), and follows him on a bizarre journey to a mythical land, where animals live in harmony without human interference. Conflict arises when some of the animals are not willing to accept a human in their midst, and furthermore, some of them decide they need to harness Lala's magical powers for the sake of their own advancement. 

Perhaps due solely to the celebrity cast, including Tom Arnold, JK Simmons, Mira Sorvino, and George Takei, I had pretty high expectations for Ava and Lala. I admit that seeing the names of these well known actors on the DVD cover gave it an automatic boost of credibility in my eyes. While the movie was cute and whimsical, it did not quite live up to what I had anticipated. There was something a little disjointed about the storyline and the dialogue. When I took a look at the credits on the DVD cover, I discovered that the film's origins are Asian, which might help to explain the mild awkwardness. In terms of what the kids thought of it, I would say that interest waned with increased age. The 5-year old was pretty enthusiastic about the movie, the eleven-year old thought it was okay, and the eight-year old's opinion was somewhere in the middle. But all three of them sat through the whole thing without complaint or coercion, and that is saying a lot. 

On a positive note, I appreciate that Ava & Lala portrays its main character as a tough, strong, and capable little girl. Ava is one determined kid, albeit headstrong and a little whiny. Furthermore, the movie's uplifting messages of friendship, compassion, and loyalty are depicted innocently and refreshingly. Some martial arts style fighting is involved, but it is not realistic and only serves to add to the fanciful quality of the movie. The imaginative and unique storyline make Ava & Lala a fun choice for family movie night.

-Alysia George