A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Deep is an animated movie about a young octopus named Deep who tries to save his friends after an environmental disaster. For a film seemingly aimed at young kids, some of the jokes are surprisingly suggestive/mature, and there's an awful lot of violence and scary stuff. The movie opens with a montage in which the world is destroyed (viewers see storms and mountains of garbage), and humans abandon a polluted ocean. Later, a lava spill caused by a missile fries several sets of young, screaming fish and puts everyone Deep knows and loves in danger. Spooky fish set upon Deep and his friends and threaten to eat them, with sharp teeth looming. There are also rude jokes about farts and butts, as well as a couple of characters who make veiled jokes about sex, like when a male crab tells a female shrimp that he hates to see her leave "but loves to watch her walk away." And some characters are stereotyped: villains speak in exaggerated accents, for example.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In the year 2100, humanity has abandoned the damaged Earth, but a colony of sea creatures clings to life, living in a cave in the bottom of the polluted ocean. The fair-yet-fearsome Kraken (voiced by Dwight Schultz) keeps the colony together with strict rules, but his rebellious grandson DEEP (Justin Felbinger) doesn't much care for doing what he's told. When Deep escapes the cave for an afternoon out with his two friends -- goofy angler fish Evo (Stephen Hughes) and neurotic brine shrimp Alice (Lindsey Alena) -- Deep accidentally triggers an incident that leaves his grandfather and everyone he knows and loves trapped and in danger. Can Deep find a great whale in submerged New York City, far across the ocean, to help free his colony? With so many dangers awaiting him and his friends along the way, it's going to be a tough journey for these three tiny sea creatures.
Is it any good?
Crass, cliched, and too violent for the young audience it seems to be aimed at, this disappointing animated tale isn't completely devoid of appeal, but it's full of problems. There's a charming scene in the middle of Deep that hints at what it could have been but isn't: Deep and his friends come across the submerged New York City and poke around what looks to be an old FAO Schwarz toy store. Goofing around, Deep fits himself into several clay molds, taking advantage of his squishiness to become a star, a sea horse, a whale. It's a sweet moment, grounded in the real-life abilities of a real sea creature. Too bad the rest of the movie is dopey and full of stereotypes and predictable elements.
The main problem, though, is that it's hard to see which audience Deep was made for. The visuals are chunky and preschooler-y, sort of like Finding Nemo (but not as good). But the violence and scariness are far too much for young/sensitive viewers: Terrified baby fish are fried by a lava flow, fish with giant teeth repeatedly threaten to eat the main characters, and they're in near-constant mortal danger. Add to that some bummer imagery about the end of mankind, bawdy jokes, and racial stereotypes, and what you have is a movie that's just a confused mess. Kids might tolerate it, but parents won't like it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why Deep focuses on the survivors of an environmental disaster. Is this an unusual point of view for a kids' movie? Is it an effective one?
Which parts of the movie did you find scary? Why? How much scary stuff can young kids handle?
Did you notice any stereotyping in the movie? What message does that send?
Why do you think it's so hard for Deep to follow his grandfather's rules? Would his life have been better if he had? What message does this send about rules?
Movies in which characters set off on an epic journey are common. What other movies with epic quests can you think of? How are they similar to or different from Deep?
- In theaters: August 25, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: October 10, 2017
- Cast: Dwight Schultz, Jess Harnell, Phil LaMarr
- Director: Julio Soto Gurpide
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Ocean Creatures
- Run time: 92 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some mild rude humor and action/peril
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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