We wind up with Labou, an independent children’s film where three tweens – Toddster (Bryan James Kitto), Gavin (Darnell J. Hamilton), and Emily (Marissa Cuevas) – set out in the Louisiana bayou to find the lost treasure of Capt. LeRouge (Barnie Duncan), but on the way discover a cute little swamp critter named Labou.
What’s even more frustrating is how the kids react upon meeting Labou. Most kids would probably say something like, “Omigod, it’s some kind of alien lizard creature! I hope it doesn’t have a taste for human flesh!” Instead, they’re merely curious about their not-of-this-earth discovery, and after five minutes they’re having an impromptu musical jam with him(!).
Labou is an animatronic creation (think Gremlins’ Gizmo crossed with a frog) who’s convincing enough to satisfy kid viewers, but adults will be much more cynical. He feels like he could have been plucked from a Jim Henson reject pile.
Even worse than his unconvincing appearance, Labou disappears from the film for stretches at a time – forcing viewers to sit through either a) the three kid actors trying to carry their scenes; or b) unfunny slapstick and insults between a pair of bumbling father-and-son developers (Earl Scioneaux and Chris Violette) who want to raze Labou’s swampland home and build an oil refinery.
While it’s too little too late, the last 20 minutes of Labou does hit on the magic that the rest of the film struggles to deliver, and it all ties up nicely at the end.
Bottom line: Writer/director (and veteran FX artist) Greg Aronowitz obviously made Labou for kids, and in that respect, mission accomplished. It’s a perfectly harmless, highly disposable children’s film that parents shouldn’t (and won’t) take too seriously.
Jack-Jack think?Labou may test the attention spans of very young children, but gradeschoolers will probably find it entertaining. To that point, Jack-Jack had almost no interest in the film, giving up halfway through, while Dash stayed with it, paying attention at every line of dialogue and laughing several times. His final summation: “It wasn’t too bad.”
Is it suitable for your kids?The only minor concerns in Labou are some name-calling (“loser,” “idiot,” and my personal fave, “Billy the Skidmark”) and a brief scene featuring a drunk person.
Will your FilmMother want to watch it?She may enjoy the fact that Labou is almost totally harmless for children, though like most adults, I doubt she’ll actually enjoy it herself.
* Director: Greg Aronowitz
* Screenwriter: Greg Aronowitz
* Stars: Barnie Duncan, Darnell Hamilton, Bryan James Kitto, Marissa Cuevas, Earl Scioneaux, Chris Violette, Ray Nagin, Kelson Henderson
* MPAA Rating: G
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