Alejandro (Evan Whitten), aka Alex, is a young Mexican boy living in the USA with his mum. Following the recent death of his father, Alex reluctantly spends his school holidays in his father’s hometown of San Javier with his grandfather Chava (Demián Bichir) and cousins, Luna (Ashley Ciarra) and Memo (Nickolas Verdugo).
Alex befriends a chupacabra cub and names him ‘Chupa’. Thought to be a mythical creature and to have blood with magical healing abilities, Chupa is hunted by a scientist called Richard Quinn (Christian Slater) and his colleagues. Alex and his family protect Chupa, and in the process Alex also deals with the loss of his father.
Grief and loss; death of parent; animal distress; racism; ageing and memory loss
Chupa has some violence. For example:
- A large chupacabra growls at Quinn, showing its big teeth then swiping at Quinn with its paws. Quinn is thrown backwards and injured.
- Quinn shoots a flare gun at the chupacabras. The flare hits the larger chupacabra’s wing and it is distressed.
- Both the adult chupacabra and Chupa are hit by a car. They are alive but hurt.
- Frequent reference to, and footage of, lucha libre fighting.
- Abuelo challenges Alex to a lucha libre fight. An adult is pictured, physically fighting a child in order for him to let his grief out. Alex is pinned by Abuelo. Alex charges at Abuelo from behind and hurls Abuelo off the fighting mat. Abuelo injures his back.
- Quinn shoots Chupa with a tranquiliser gun on 2 occasions.
- Chupa scratches Quinn’s face.
- Memo bites Quinn’s arm.
- Several large chupacabras attack Quinn’s car.
- Quinn attempts to run the chupacabras over with his car.
Chupa has some sexual references. For example, Luna says she is, ‘obsessed with the Beastie Boys’.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Chupa has some substance use. For example, a doctor injects medicine into Abuelo’s arm to help him with his pain.
Nudity and sexual activity
Chupa has some nudity and sexual activity. For example, adults wear lucha libre outfits that have spandex pants, a cape, and a mask but no top.
Chupa has some product placement. For example the following products are shown or mentioned: Gameboy, Jurassic Park, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, PacMan and Walkman.
Chupa has some coarse language. For example, ‘son of a…’, ‘to hell with that guy’ and ‘Don’t even think about going into my sister’s room… She will kill you.’ Name calling and insults include ‘loser’, and ‘he’s so weird’. There are also some racial slurs, including Alex being called a ‘taquito’ and being mocked for his Mexican lunch by a school bully.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Chupa is a fantasy adventure movie. It’s set in Mexico and uses both English and Spanish languages throughout. The movie’s key take-home message is the importance of connection with family and heritage. It’s best suited for a tween and older audience, but it’s important to note that children are pictured driving a car in several scenes and stealing a car in one scene. Children also play with and teach each other how to use fireworks.
These are the main themes in Chupa:
- The importance of knowing where you come from
- Family devotion
- Dealing with grief
- Protecting animals.
Values in Chupa that you could reinforce with your children are compassion, courage and pride in your culture.
Chupa could also give you the chance to talk with your children about the natural process of ageing, loss and grief, and attitudes towards racial differences.