A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Steely resolve and courage can see you through the toughest of times, but you still need the love and warmth of family.
Positive Role Models
Hushpuppy is strong and brave and very precocious for her age. For a 6-year-old, she has a very wise outlook on serious matters, including death. She doesn't let anything keep her down, and she believes in her power and ability. Her father is deeply flawed and sometimes hurtful, but he loves her fiercely.
Violence & Scariness
A character slaps his child once to discipline her, and she hits him back; he also taunts her to toughen her up. A child starts a fire. Three men blow up a dam.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A father discusses the night of his child's conception (but not in a lewd way). Kids dance in a brothel.
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A couple of uses of "s--t" and "p---y," plus "ass," "damn," "hell," "crap," and "goddamn."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Lots of drinking, including off-label hooch, beer, wine, vodka, and other hard liquor. A man shares his liquor with his very young daughter.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Beasts of the Southern Wild is a heart-wrenching fable that's so unique that it's hard to classify. It's a drama about an alcoholic father who means well but has few tools to convey his love to his spitfire 6-year-old daughter. It's a celebration of quirky friendships and the power of the imagination. It's an indictment of the deep divide that separates the rich and the poor. And much more. Expect some swearing; kids and adults both say the word "p---y." There's also lots of drinking, brutal depictions of abject poverty, an adult striking a child, and discussion about the death of a parent. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD proves that you don't need the bombast of a too-loud soundtrack and superhero excess to make an audience feel, deeply and achingly. Hushpuppy's devastatingly impoverished but imaginative life in the bayou is enough. Destruction needs no embellishments, poverty no fireworks. The film takes flights of fancy, but they share space well with harsh realities. The juxtaposition is outstanding, and they make you question your own suppositions -- something few films do. Is Wink a bad father, or is he remarkable given the circumstances? (The casting director deserves an award for finding two of the most compelling actors to debut in a film: Wallis and Henry are both acting novices, though you wouldn't know it from the potency of their work here.)
Beasts of the Southern Wild unfolds through Hushpuppy's eyes, and it's a sight to behold: sometimes wondrous, often disordered and dysfunctional. It's hard not to see the film through a political lens even if you're apolitical. But there's no stridency here: Fantastical moments and a fantastic script manage to juggle so much with grace. As Hushpuppy says, "The entire world depends on everything fitting together just right." But her world is one where wealth and squalor co-exist all too easily, the discrepancy painfully obvious (even though we don't really see the other world), the puzzle pieces not equal in weight or importance. Yet the hardscrabble people of Bathtub still find a way to channel their joy, even though they've been forgotten.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.