Abulele Review
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Anyone who’s tried to get a young child to sleep at night knows that all kinds of scary monsters tend to come out at night. But in the Israeli fantasy Abulele, a boy meets one of the things that lurk in the darkness—and he learns that it’s not nearly as scary as he thought.

Abulele follows the magical adventures of Adam (Yoav Sadian), a troubled 10-year-old who’s struggling to come to terms with his older brother’s death in a car accident a year ago. Adam has fallen behind in school, and he gets into way too many fights with the school bully. But then, one afternoon, he finds a monster in the basement of his building. He discovers that it’s an ancient beast called Abulele—and though it may look big and scary, it’s actually playful and friendly and fiercely loyal. But when a secret government agency tracks down his new friend, Adam comes to his defense.

Sometimes tense and dramatic, sometimes sweet and whimsical, Abulele is an enjoyable family-friendly film. The foundation of the story is heartbreaking, but it also has plenty of playful moments and a great sense of humor. And its main character is perfectly lovable, too.

Though Adam’s story may be different from other kids’, young viewers will still understand what he’s going through. He’s a sweet, thoughtful kid who’s going through a difficult time. Like many kids his age, he struggles with friendships and bullies and school work. He has a teacher who doesn’t understand him and parents who are caught up in their own grief. But he finds a new friend in the monster that he discovers in the basement—and their adventures together change everything.

Still, the story isn’t without its flaws. It’s certainly charming and fun, but some of the storylines seem out of place, and some of the characters aren’t given the development that they deserve—like the school’s mysterious janitor, Hani (Makram Khoury).

Keep in mind, too, that while Abulele is reportedly getting a Hollywood remake, this is a foreign film—and the subtitles can move along pretty quickly. Young viewers (and older ones, too) may have to work to focus on reading the dialogue—but, with its likable characters and relatable story, it’s a good first foreign film for young movie buffs.

If you’re looking for some family entertainment that’s out of the ordinary, Abulele is an imaginative film from the other side of the globe. But the character’s struggles and fears show that kids are kids, no matter which country they’re from.

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