Visually stunning but scary fantasy for older tweens and up.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Review Date: August 27, 2009
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 79 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Despite its often-bleak tone and some conflict among the characters, the movie's overwhelming messages are about banding together to battle evil, not leaving anyone behind, redemption, and self sacrifice for the greater good. As in the Terminator movies, there's a clear caution about giving too much power to machines/technology. There's also a spiritual undertone to some parts of the movie, especially in regards to how the main characters came to be.

Positive role models

The character 9 is resourceful, selfless, and brave from the start. He inspires the rest of his kind to band together and fight against the machines. The 7 character, who is female, is a fierce, independent warrior. Leader 1 is initially resistant to change, curiosity, and risk, but he sees the error of his ways in the end.


Several scenes of frightening machines attacking and, in several cases, killing the main character's friends. Although the battles are between ragdoll-like creatures and robots instead of humans and aren't gory, they can be quite intense and scary. There are also disturbing images of a machine being beheaded, characters having their life force sucked out of them, explosions, and other moments of intense, suspenseful peril. Dead human bodies are shown briefly, including a mother and child, and flashbacks and newsreel footage show an intense battle between people and rampaging machines. Weapons include spears and, in the flashback sequences, guns and chemical bombs.

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this dark, futuristic Tim Burton-produced fantasy may be animated, but it's not meant for younger kids. Violence and scary scenes are prevalent throughout the film, with the main characters frequently battling killer robotic machines -- which are merciless as they pursue (and, in several cases, kill) their ragdoll-like prey in frightening ways. The robots also make alarming noises and often pop up out of the blue. Dead human bodies are shown briefly, but there's no gore. On the up side, despite the movie's ominous tone and frequent peril and violence, there's no language, drinking, consumerism, or sexual content.

What's the story?

Based on writer-director Shane Acker's 2005 Oscar-nominated short, 9 is set in a post-apocalyptic world where all that's left of humanity is a band of ragdoll-like beings created by an unnamed elderly scientist. When the final ragdoll, 9 (voiced by Elijah Wood), awakens, he sets off to explore his world. He stumbles upon another creature like him, 2 (Martin Landau), but they're quickly attacked by a mechanical beast, and 2 is taken. 9 joins up with the remaining ragdolls, who are split between those who want to confront the murderous machine to save 2 and those who want to hide from it. After 9 inadevertently powers up an even bigger machine, the group has no choice but to attempt to destroy the killer robot.

Is it any good?


Acker is a gifted filmmaker. The movie's visuals are breathtakingly crafted, and everything in a scene -- from the buttons and zippers on the ragdoll creatures' bodies to the stained-glass window in a deserted cathedral -- is amazingly detailed. The pacing is also just right. At only 79 minutes, the suspense is crisply edited, with a couple of moments earning audible gasps from the audience. Based on style alone, this is a brilliant, five-star film.

But story-wise, Acker falls a bit short. The plot is minimalist, and all of the characters -- aged and jaded leader 1 (Christopher Plummer), fiercely brave 7 (Jennifer Connelly), sweet but scared 5 (John C. Reilly), introverted artist 6 (Crispin Glover), and mute librarian twins 3 and 4 -- deserve more depth. We see 9 from his "birth," but the rest of the gang isn't nearly as strongly sewn together. Still, plot shortcomings aside, 9 is a must-see for its impressive, inventive animation.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the movie's violence and scary scenes. Is it any less scary because humans aren't involved, or is it still intense?

  • What is the movie saying about technology? Is technology portrayed negatively in other films?

  • Who do you think the movie's intended audience is? Do you think young kids will want to see it?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:September 9, 2009
DVD release date:December 29, 2009
Cast:Christopher Plummer, Elijah Wood, John C. Reilly
Director:Shane Acker
Studio:Focus Features
Run time:79 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:violence and scary images.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 14 years old Written byPoison Ivey September 13, 2009
***CONTAINS SPOILERS***At first you see dead bodies, (including that of a baby on a little bike meant for infants, a mother with a child in her lap, and a scientist lying pale on the floor), and the first time the life is sucked out of someone, it is very disturbing and sad. But once you get used to the scariness, the movie is absolutley incredible. It's an ingenious creation. Not for sensitive people. There was an adult woman in the seat next to me who started crying, then a boy who was at least 7 sitting in the front seat, who walked out of the theater saying how awesome the movie was. And he was right, 9 is an awesome movie. You cant miss it.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great role models
Adult Written byMovie Man September 16, 2009

Visually Dominant, but Ultimately Confusing.

This is a good film. Good visuals, good action... but that's it. The most dangerous problem here is the plot holes. You could literally fall into the plot holes becuase they're so big. That's all I have to say about this short, poorly-written film. Thanks for reading. -Movie Man
What other families should know
Too much violence
Written byAnonymous December 21, 2013

Beautiful in Every Way -- Suitable for Older Children

9 is a story about a scientist living in an apocalyptic world, where machines decided to revolt. Knowing that he can't live on with the airborne poison the machines created, he brought it upon himself to use a talisman and transport his soul into makeshift rag dolls. Now that is some serious sacrifice you got there. 9, the current and last of the dolls, ventures off into the wasteland of the world, where he meets 2, the kinder, wiser elder of the group. You're then introduced to the Cat-Beast, one of the machine monsters, who captures 2. I don't want to spoil it anymore from this point. But there is a LOT of death (it's an apocalyptic film, whaddyou expect?). The visuals are just beautiful, the story is beautiful, the themes are beautiful--this is a piece of art right here. The bravery and sacrifice these characters show is incredible. They each have their own flaws that make them who they are, for no one is perfect. And the end is enough to make you cry (Number 5 WHYYYYY?). This film is so under-appreciated and misunderstood. This is one of my all time favorite films, and I hope you enjoy it too.


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