Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie's Dead Aunt)

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie's Dead Aunt) Movie Poster Image
Short, sweet Aussie coming-out romance has strong language.
  • NR
  • 2021
  • 82 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Positive messages about being brave, honest with family and loved ones, and empathetic about others' feelings. Encourages people to stand up for their beliefs and be true to their identity.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Abbie is honest and straightforward with Ellie; she shares her feelings, her history, and her expectations in a way that makes it clear what she feels about a potential relationship with Ellie. Aunt Patty is a supportive and kind trusted adult to Ellie, as is the ghost of Aunt Tara.

Violence

Conversations about a protest that ends in a hate crime: a car purposely strikes an activist and kills her. A young woman is upset and has a public breakdown, yelling "Don't touch me!" when someone tries to comfort her. 

Sex

Teens kiss passionately at a dance. In flashbacks, another couple embraces and kisses. Romance/relationships are core to the movie's plot.

Language

Occasional strong language includes a few uses of "f--k" and "f--king," as well as "c--t."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults and high school seniors toast and drink champagne. A teen at a dance seems like he's taken drugs, and a young teacher is caught about to smoke a joint. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie's Dead Aunt) is an Australian coming-of-age/coming-out dramedy about a high school senior who wants to ask her classmate to the Year 12 formal but ends up invoking the ghost of her long-dead aunt, who wants to help support her niece's decision to come out. Expect occasional strong language, including "c--t" and a few uses of "f--k." Characters are upsest by discussion of a violent hate crime that resulted in death (an activist was struck by a car during a protest). A teen couple kisses passionately. The movie offers messages about courage, empathy, and honesty and provides positive representation of LGBTQ friends who grow into a couple -- as well as an ultimately uplifting depiction of a mother accepting and supporting her daughter. 

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What's the story?

ELLIE & ABBIE (& ABBIE'S DEAD AUNT) is Australian writer-director Monica Zanetti's coming-of-age drama about titular high-school senior Ellie (Sophie Hawkshaw), who has a crush on her classmate/project partner Abbie (Zoe Terakes) and wants to ask her to the Year 12 formal dance. Just as Ellie is mustering the courage to approach Abbie, Ellie starts to see the ghost of her dead Aunt Tara (Julia Billington). Tara, who was a lesbian, claims that she's a "Fairy Godmother" who's been sent to guide Ellie into her life as a young gay woman. But complications arise when Ellie's single mother, Erica (Marta Dusseldorp), isn't immediately supportive. Ellie's early attempts to woo Abbie also go awry with funny missteps, as well as a disturbing realization about Aunt Tara's death. New Zealander actress Rachel House (Thor: Ragnarok) co-stars as Erica's best friend/Ellie's "Aunt Patty."

Is it any good?

This Aussie coming-out story is a heartwarming teen and family dramedy. Hawkshaw is well cast as Ellie, who loves positive affirmations, her mother, school, and her effortlessly cool classmate, Abbie. And nonbinary actor Terakes (Nine Perfect Strangers) is fabulous as Abbie, who's free of artifice and drama. The scenes between Ellie and Abbie are both poignant and the movie's funniest. Zanetti definitely paints a realistic portrait of the difficulties of putting yourself out there and asking someone out for the first time.

The ghost angle is quirky and fun but also heartbreaking, because Ellie never knew her Aunt Tara, who died before she was born. Ellie and Tara's interactions are sweet, particularly as Tara keeps giving Ellie "dated" advice that somehow still resonates (like when she claims that Ellie can confirm whether Abbie is gay if she knows any Australian Football League players, or when she suggests they discuss who's hotter, k.d. lang or Melissa Etheridge). The only thread that isn't quite satisfying as written is Ellie's relationship with her mom. They're supposed to be as close as best friends, but Ellie's mom acts selfishly in her response to her daughter coming out. It's eventually explained why Erica is triggered by her daughter's revelation, but for part of the movie it does seem slightly too homophobic, given their strong relationship. Ultimately this is a surprisingly tenderhearted story of coming out, falling in love, and reconciling with the past.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie's Dead Aunt) portrays teens. Are the characters and their decisions realistic? What about the consequences of those decisions?

  • What is the movie's ultimate message about sexual identity? Is the ending hopeful? Why do you think coming-out stories are important?

  • Discuss the parts of the movie that are flashbacks to the 1980s. Are Ellie's aunt's actions still relevant today? How so? How have things changed since then?

  • How does the movie demonstrate courage and integrity? Why are those important character strengths?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love LGBTQ stories

Character Strengths

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