Parents' Guide to

Beasts of the Southern Wild

By S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Devastatingly moving drama has harsh truths, whimsy, wisdom.

Movie PG-13 2012 93 minutes
Beasts of the Southern Wild Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 9 parent reviews

age 14+

Living on your own terms with dignity and realness

How does one portray generational poverty with dignity and realness, without romanticization, but with heart and reveal the strong spirit needed to survive and thrive in a world that wishes you did not exist. Zeitlin has a strong vision for the film that comes roaring through and Wallis and Henry have excellent chemistry with each other and with the environment. What is home? How do we feel about it and how do our bodies fit within it? Zeitlin offers a provocative and complex response to these questions.
age 15+

Tough and emotional, but worth watching

It took me a second viewing to appreciate this movie more, and man did it really help. Hushpuppy and her father, Wink, go through tough times and situations together, but they each try to help the other. What was tough about it was that Hushpuppy is only 6, and Wink is an alcoholic (there are a number of scenes where he is seen chugging alcohol), so he treats her roughly (he gives her some slaps), but really wants to help her make it through the tough times. Ultimately, Hushpuppy's friendships with others in her community, despite their intense poverty, gives her hope to move forward with her life and be strong. In addition to the issues mentioned above, there is also some disturbing peril with Hushpuppy (including being in a burning home), and language problems (including an f-bomb). The atmosphere is really depressing to experience, especially considering these people go through intense poverty, but I think that the messages of having a strong community make watching this movie a worthwhile viewing with mature teens. 7.1/10

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (9 ):
Kids say (18 ):

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.

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