Movie review by
Kat Halstead, Common Sense Media
Animals Movie Poster Image
Raunchy tale of female friendship; sex, drink, and drugs.
  • NR
  • 2019
  • 109 minutes

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

Positive Messages

Themes of friendship and family are central, yet mostly serve as a catalyst for debauchery -- drinking, drugs, and casual sex. Messages of self-awareness and self-improvement come very late in the day.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Lead characters Laura and Tyler have a strong friendship and support each other, but are almost constantly intoxicated with detrimental effects to their careers and other relationships. Their co-dependence is borderline possessive.


A character is seen passed out during a night out. Death and cancer are briefly discussed.


Sexual acts -- masturbation, oral sex, full intercourse -- are discussed, implied, and simulated on screen. There is full female nudity and partial male nudity.


Strong language includes "f--k," "s--t," "piss," "d--k," "p---y," "crap," and "wanker."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Excessive drinking -- including wine, spirits, and shots -- results in drunken behavior and hangovers. Drugs are purchased and consumed -- including cocaine, pot, and MDMA. Characters smoke roll-up cigarettes. In one scene, a character is seen passed out near a pool of vomit.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Animals is an edgy comedy, based on Emma Jane Unsworth's novel, about two best friends living in Dublin, who spend their time drinking, taking drugs, and having sex. Laura (Holliday Grainger) and Tyler (Alia Shawkat) are often seen either drunk, hungover, or under the influence of drugs. They have both casual and longer-term sexual relationships, which include simulated sex acts and -- full female and partial male -- nudity. Strong language is used throughout, including "f--k" and "s--t." Topics such as death, cancer, grief, anger, and borderline addiction are explored to varying degrees. The pair's hedonistic behavior is mostly played for laughs, while the friendship at the core is raw, tender, and realistic. The characters are likable, though perhaps not the role models parents may wish their teens to emulate.

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What's the story?

In ANIMALS, best friends Laura (Holliday Grainger) and Tyler (Alia Shawkat) have always enjoyed a sense of freedom and lack of consequences throughout their friendship. But, after a decade of partying and attempting to write a novel -- the result of which averages a page a year -- Laura starts to wonder if their carefree lifestyle can continue into their 30s. When she falls for handsome pianist Jim (Fra Fee), it's a sign that priorities may need to shift and the party might be coming to an end -- an idea Tyler, it seems, will fight to the death.

Is it any good?

Adapted from Emma Jane Unsworth's novel of the same name, this dark comedy is a touching, funny and unflinching portrayal of female friendship. There are strong nods to the likes of Broad City and Fleabag in Animals. Transporting the story from Manchester to Dublin, with it's history of literature -- and nightlife -- works perfectly for director Sophie Hyde's richly drawn, almost dreamlike cityscape that's light with rebellious idealism, yet heavy with gritty reality. Grainger's Laura is a revelation, while Dublin's bohemian corners is a fitting home for Shawcat's troubled Tyler.

Though occasionally a little try-hard, the script is sharp and witty, and reflects the shorthand developed between the close friends beautifully. The chemistry between the two is infectious and, despite the often grim reality of their lifestyles, the movie avoids labeling or judging too harshly. These complex characters are given a compassionate space to be themselves -- raw, honest, yet still inherently lovable.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the drinking and drug taking in Animals. Do Laura and Tyler experience any consequences to their behavior? How might this differ to real life?

  • How is sex depicted? Do you think it's meant to be realistic or shocking? What's the difference? What values are imparted?

  • Discuss the friendship between Laura and Tyler. Is it a healthy relationship? What are the positive and negative aspects of their friendship? 

  • How does the movie compare to the book? What did you think about the decision of changing the setting to Dublin? What role does Dublin play in the movie?

  • Discuss the other characters in the movie? Do any express strong character strengths? What and how?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love comedy

Themes & Topics

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