Ella Bella Bingo Parent Guide
Digital on demand: A simple story for little kids about best friends and big emotions.
Parent Movie Review
Based on a Norwegian preschool television show, Ella Bella Bingo tells the story of Ella (Summer Fontana) and Henry (Jack Fisher) who are best friends, until a new boy named Johnny (Benjamin Plessala) moves into town. When Henry disappears, Ella and Johnny have to team up to find him. Along the way they learn some valuable lessons about friendship, jealousy, and big emotions.
In order to fairly review this movie, I had to put on my Early Childhood Educator hat for the first time in a while. As an educational tool for preschoolers, I think Ella Bella Bingo hits the mark. The themes and lessons are squarely laid out in a way that young children will be able to understand and relate to. It teaches children about jealousy, empathy, friendship, and finding ways to positively face big emotions. My three-year-old and I had a great discussion about feelings as we watched it together. It felt less like a movie and more like a long episode of didactic children’s television. It is not trying to be an Oscar winning film, and it doesn’t need to be. It knows what it is and who it is aimed for and it hits its marks.
In terms of content there is very little to worry about. There are a handful of frightening moments, such as a scene inside an amusement park haunted house, but none of them go further than anything common in young children’s television or film. (I’ve seen scarier things on Disney Junior in the middle of the day.) The overall tone is very silly, so even the more frightening moments are offset by goofiness. Speaking of goofiness, there’s a dog that farts a lot. My preschooler found it hilarious; I thought the joke got overplayed.
The only potential downside to this movie relates to its dubbing into English. Since the film comes from Norway, it was animated to align with spoken Norwegian. I’m not sure if they didn’t rejig the animation to match English dialogue or if they tried but didn’t quite nail it. Either way, the character’s mouths don’t always line up with their speech. This isn’t overly distracting, but it’s a little bit off – not enough to bother preschoolers, but it could be mildly irksome for adults.
Overall, Ella Bella Bingo accomplishes what it sets out to do. It teaches children lessons and entertains them with silliness. Older children will most likely find it boring and childish, but I can see the preschool and young elementary crowds enjoying it. It’s not offensively annoying, so adults won’t find it too hard to sit through, which is a big plus.
Bonus review from my three-year-old: “I liked when the dog was tooting.” “The chickens were silly.”Directed by Atle Solberg Blakseth and Frank Mosvold. Starring Summer Fontana, Richard Kind, Jack Fisher . Running time: 79 minutes. Theatrical release April 28, 2020. Updated May 8, 2020
Watch the trailer for Ella Bella Bingo
Ella Bella Bingo
Rating & Content Info
Why is Ella Bella Bingo rated Not Rated? Ella Bella Bingo is rated Not Rated by the MPAA
Violence: Children briefly play with toy laser guns and wooden swords. Some children go on a roller coaster ride through a haunted house where they see skeletons and ghosts. Two children are chased by an angry bull through a field. A divorced couple argues.
Sexual Content: An adult couple kisses.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None
Page last updated May 8, 2020
Ella Bella Bingo Parents' Guide
Why is Ella angry with Johnny? How does she express her emotions to Johnny and Henry? How could she have handled the situation in a more positive way? What can we do when we feel jealous?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
Frog and Toad are friends by Arnold Lobel is a classic collection of short stories about the simple joys of friendship.
The complexities of shifting friendships are ably depicted in Russell Hoban’s well loved Best Friends for Frances. Dori Chaconas has written an early reader that covers some of the same ground in Cork & Fuzz: Best Friends.
Worry and jealousy between friends are both addressed in I Will Surprise My Friend! By Mo Willems in part of his Elephant and Piggie series.
When friendship groups widen, kids can feel jealous and scared. Nicole C Karr has written an early chapter book on the topic as part of her Fix-It Friends series, Three’s a Crowd. Another girl struggles with unwanted extra friends in Anica Mrose Rissi’s chapter book, Anna, Banana, and the Recipe for Disaster. Younger readers will appreciate Love, Triangle, by Marcie Colleen and Bob Shea, which shows what happened when Circle and Square’s friendship changes with the arrival of Triangle. Also suitable for young readers is We Are (Not) Friends. This picture book by Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant shows what happens when two friends are joined by a third and each of them takes turns feeling left out.
The most recent home video release of Ella Bella Bingo movie is March 24, 2020. Here are some details…
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There are other movies out there to help kids identify and address difficult emotions and we have two to recommend for slightly older children. In Wonder Park, June is consumed by anxiety when her mother is hospitalized. But when she realizes that the imaginary amusement park they have created is real, and is suffering from her neglect, she has to come to terms with her fears. Inside Outtakes us inside Riley’s head and we watch her emotions – Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust – struggle for control as she deals with homesickness and grief.
It can be difficult to find movies that are suitable for preschoolers. Racetimeis a kid-safe animated movie about two groups of youngsters who build elaborate toboggan runs and race on them. Terra Willy: Unexplored Planet(also released under the name Astro Kid and available in the US in late summer 2020) is a beautifully rendered story of a little boy who gets marooned on an alien planet when his family’s spaceship is damaged. He has to survive with the help of his robot, an alien friend and his own wits until his parents are able to find him. This movie sounds scarier than it is but it’s lots of fun for kids and so beautifully designed that parents will enjoy watching it.
Changes in friendship groups can be stressful for kids. Toy Storyshows how Woody the cowboy reacts when a new toy – Buzz Lightyear – is added to the toy box. In Toy Story 4, Woody is left in the closet while Bonnie plays with other toys and Woody has to find a new role for himself.