A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
When the going gets tough, hang in there -- life is full of surprises and wonderful moments. Themes include life, death, perseverance, and sacrifice.
Positive Role Models
Nanhe is a restauranteur and performer who doesn't always seem to be a great guy, but by the movie's end, he's a hero with an inspiring message about perseverance.
Chinese animation and production team tell the story of a Chinese girl who's suffering from depression. Dialogue is in Mandarin (with English subtitles for U.S. release), and Chinese culture is part of the fabric of the film. The suffocating nature of depression is visually represented, and insight is offered into the unhelpful encouragements that some peopel think will help those who are grappling with depression "snap out of it."
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Violence & Scariness
Characters are often in incredible peril, running from a suffocating "red phantom" that stretches and grows quickly. Some characters are drawn in ways that seem intended to be unsettling, like fish with faces and teeth, or human with a rubbery face and mouth that stretches too far. The pain of maternal abandonment is active throughout. A child is sometimes alone and frightened. A girl is barefoot in a snowstorm. Parent transforms into a monster.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Close-up of animal bottoms sticking out of their underwear as they work out on treadmills.
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Language includes "jerk" and "stupid." Character is told straight up: "Your mother doesn't want you."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Smoking throughout. Drinking, including while captaining a boat. A main character gets drunk.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Deep Sea is an extraordinary, wildly imaginative Chinese animated film that explores the pain of depression. Main character Shenxiu (voiced by Wang Ting Wen) -- who's been physically abandoned by her mother and spiritually abandoned by her father -- is living a child's deepest fear, and viewers feel it. Characters are often in incredible peril, running from a suffocating "red phantom" that stretches and grows quickly. Some of the movie's sea creatures have a creepy edge, drawn so that fish have human teeth or are otherwise unsettling. While the story is purposefully vague and difficult to follow, know that all will be clear by the emotional ending. Early elementary-age kids may not have the patience needed to get there -- which may be just as well, given the themes of family separation and tragedy. A character who befriends Shenxiu smokes and drinks and is drunk in one scene. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Breathtakingly gorgeous and original, this underwater epic sets a high bar for animators when it comes to creativity. At the same time, Deep Sea may to be too much for some people, especially in 3D and on a big screen. Embracing the fact that the action occurs underwater, the screen is almost always rocking and shifting, and it's a dizzying journey (to the point that it might cause motion sickness!). Writer-director Xiaopeng Tian grabs viewers by the hand and drags us along through astonishing, long tracking shots and constant chaos. It's a feat, but it's not necessarily one all will enjoy, particularly little kids.
Tian also takes an innovative approach to adapting an illustrated children's book: The book doesn't actually exist. While telling more would be a spoiler, families can use the film as inspiration to consider a real book they've read as a springboard for telling a bigger story. Ultimately, this beautiful tragedy is loud and sometimes abrasive visual poetry, and it must be seen through to the very end to appreciate it as an unparalled masterpiece.
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.
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Our Editors Recommend
Offbeat Animated Movies
Movies with Asian, Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Characters
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