Saturday, 28, May, 2022

Review | Monica's Gang: Lessons

Turma da Mônica: Lições is an exquisite adaptation, with moments that seem to have come straight from the comics, and with a story full of emotion and depth.

When Monica's Gang: Ties was announced, the success was probably already something to be expected, after all the film brought to movie screens the first live-action adaptation of characters who are part of a true cultural institution in our country, the Monica's Gang, maximum creation of Maurício de Sousa.

Perhaps it was just not expected that the 2019 film would be as successful as it was, having surpassed the 2 million viewers mark. With such success, a sequel was predictable. Monica's Gang: Lessons was announced in the CCXP of 2019 and, despite some delay in production caused by the pandemic, will finally be hitting theaters across Brazil on December 30, 2021.

But will this sequel be able to match the success of the previous film?
We can easily say yes, although Lessons follows a very different path from Ties. The film, directed by Daniel Rezende, adapts the second volume of the series Graphic MSP (with script and art by the brothers Lu and Victor Caffagi; the series still has a third volume, Memories, which would be the logical choice for adaptation in a probable third film), which uses the rich universe created by Maurício de Sousa, but approaching longer, better-developed stories with deeper themes, but still maintaining the essence of what it is the Turma da Mônica and its characters, as well as focusing on children and youth.

The plot may seem simple at first, but it breaks down into several subplots that address very rich and pertinent themes, but without ever deviating from its main theme. On a typical school day, Mônica and her friends realize that they haven't done their homework (mainly because they are rehearsing a play for the fair in the Limoeiro neighborhood). Not to be discovered, they decide to run away from the school, but an accident occurs and everyone ends up being caught.

The main consequence of this mess is that the children are separated from their friends, being sent to parallel activities, all of which are real personal challenges for them, such as Magali being sent to cooking, Cascão to swimming, and Cebolinha to speech therapy sessions. Mônica ends up being separated in a more severe way, being transferred to a full-time school, where she doesn't know anyone.

The film uses this separation of the main characters to expand the portrait of the vast universe created by Maurício de Sousa. Through it, several other characters are introduced, such as Dudu (Magali's cousin who has difficulty eating, played by Giovanni Nicholas), Milena (Emily Nayara, who also adds Porridge, Magali's kitten, to the story, Marina (Lais Villela), Against (Vinicius Higo), Nimbus (Rodrigo Kenji), Humberto (Lucas Infante), little fringe (James Schmitt), in addition to Tina's gang (Isabelle Drummond), with Roll (Gustavo Merighi), Kite (Camila Brandão) and Zecão (Fernando More).

But that's not all, because the film is filled with easter-eggs and characters that appear only at a glance, but who are old acquaintances of those who know the stories of Turma da Mônica. In addition, an all-important post-credit scene features the first performance of another beloved member of the gang. And finally, it is clear that the film has the participation of Maurício de Sousa himself, in a cameo worthy of a Stan Lee, something I had already done in the first film.

The film also tackles relevant themes in an absolutely didactic, intelligent, sensitive and responsible way, without losing, at any time, the amusing verve of the adventure. Probably the greatest example is in the way Magali's hunger (especially in times of stress) is associated with anxiety, a subject worked out clearly enough for children of almost any age to understand.

Another topic that is well addressed is bullying, which occurs both in the class's school and in the new school where Mônica is transferred (here represented by the character Tonhão, an older student). In fact, there are relevant themes galore in the film, but the main ones are really growing up, friendship and the fact that no one has to give up what they like (especially friends) in order to grow.

The main cast is fantastic, showing a huge evolution of child actors between the two films. Giulia Benite (Monica), Gabriel Moreira (Smudge) and Laura Rauseo (Magali) manage to easily convey both the sensations of fun, tenderness, drama and emotion inherent in the film, but there is an undeniable highlight for Kevin Vechiatto (Cebolinha), which really demonstrates greater resourcefulness between them.

Furthermore, additions to the cast also do very well, both the new kids and the adult part of the cast. There could be no better choice than Isabelle Drummond for Tina, for example. And the supporting cast (which includes Malu Mader, Monica Iozzi, Luis Pacini, Paulo Vilhena, Fafá Renó, Ana Carolina Godoy, Beto Schultz, Angélica de Paula, Adriano Paixão, Camila Brandão, Gustavo Merighi and Fernando More) is also worthy of praise, even on the smallest ends.

Monica's Gang: Lessons is an exquisite adaptation, with moments that seem straight out of the comics, and with a story full of emotion and depth. Unlike the first film, where there was a more objective plot, Lições is mainly about changes, insecurities and absences.

Both the cast and the entire production team (the film was produced by Bionics Films, co-produced by Maurício de Sousa Produções, Paris Entertainment, Paramount Pictures and Globo Films) show an enormous respect and love for the work created by Maurício and this is noticeable in the film, with the setting, with the care for details, with the interpretation.

And the result could not be different, a sequel even better than the original (which had already been great). It deserves to be seen at the premiere, on December 30, 2021.

By: Wallace William

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Turma da Mônica: Lições is an exquisite adaptation, with moments that seem to have come straight from the comics, and with a story full of emotion and depth.
Written byWallace William

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