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Parents' Guide to


By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Trippy, mature animated fantasy has sex, violence, pot.

Movie NR 2021 95 minutes
Cryptozoo Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

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Kids say (1 ):

Comic book illustrator Dash Shaw's second film is a true original and bound to be polarizing: Many likely won't care for it, but for some, it could become a touchstone. The animation, the story, and the characters are certainly different and definitely imaginative. Colorfully and creatively assembling all of the world's legendary creatures is an idea so tantalizing that it's baffling no one has thought of it before. Why wouldn't there be a special organization focused on providing a safe home for these unique, often powered legendary creatures? (Wait, maybe this has been done before, and it was called X-Men?) Here's hoping a similarly themed, kid-appropriate tale eventually gets made -- not only does the concept seem like a natural for kids, but thinking about the ethics of zoos is a great way to inspire critical thinking -- because Cryptozoo is very much not for young ones.

While existing in pure fantasy, the harsh realities that Lauren and Phoebe encounter are more real than what we see in many TV shows and movies, such as entering seedy environments in which a special agent pretending to be a stripper has to get nude to gain information, or where everyone's favorite fantasy creature is brutally murdered by a sympathetic character. The movie's orgy scene, while roughly animated, is far more graphic than would ever be OK'd for a commercial theater. And while the main characters have warm feelings about saving and protecting cryptids, they also seem to be fine with exploiting and commercializing them to fund their care. The experience is a constant push and pull of the sensibilities, leaving viewers with vibrant images they can't get out of their head, even if they'd very much like to. Adults can decide whether this is an animated journey they want to experience, but, even if you don't like it, it's impossible not to respect it. In the world of animated films, Cryptozoo is as rare as a unicorn.

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