A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this farce with a likeable cast -- all the same folks behind the popular heist comedy A Fish Called Wanda -- really digs into the sexual innuendo with a long-running joke about the main character's supposed wild sex life. Characters get undressed down to underwear and another gets sexually harassed by the boss' son. Violence is pretty mild, but includes gunshots and one unlikeable character dead. The zoo is plastered with sponsorship banners in a few scenes as a nice send-up of corporate greed run amok. Lots of language, including one "f--k."
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
After billionaire mogul Rod McCain (Kevin Kline) acquires a zoo, he sends corporate lackey Rollo Lee (John Cleese) to make it 20 percent more profitable or he'll close it down. But Rollo makes some rather public missteps and Willa Weston (Jamie Lee Curtis) is sent in to help. Unfortunately for her, the boss' son Vince McCain (also Kevin Kline) tags along. He's determined to show his father how worthy he is to inherit those billions by dressing the staff as animals and taking on dozens of sponsorships -- even the lion gets dressed in a banner ad that says "Absolut Fierce." He's also determined to win over Willa, but suddenly she's both interested in protecting the animals and starting to have feelings for Rollo as well.
Is it any good?
A couple of Monty Python alums thought up the funny premise of cuddly creatures needing to take on fierce alter-egos to bring in zoo visitors, and that 10 minutes of the movie is downright hilarious. Also pretty funny: Rollo faking the deaths of the animals to look authoritative, and the tacky things Vince does to the zoo in the name of profits (especially the lion dressed up in an "Absolut Fierce" banner). It goes downhill from there pretty fast.
The father-son mogul storyline is given way too much weight, all the sexual innuendo gets pretty tired, and Vince's sexual harassment is much creepier than it is funny. It's great to see the cast of A Fish Called Wanda reunite, but it should have been for a much smarter script. In this digital era, they could have released the 10 minutes of hilarity on the web and left the rest on the cutting room floor.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the idea that violence sells. Do you like the cuddly animals as much as the fierce ones? What shows get the most hype on Animal Planet?
What about all the sponsorships at the zoo? Do you notice them at your zoo, or at the baseball stadium? Where are they the most plentiful?
What are your favorite comedies, and how do you decide which ones to watch? Do you look for funny actors, like John Cleese, or story lines that sound funny?
- In theaters: January 24, 1997
- On DVD or streaming: June 1, 2010
- Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, John Cleese, Kevin Kline
- Directors: Fred Schepisi, Robert Young
- Studio: Universal Studios
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Wild Animals
- Run time: 93 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: for sexual innuendo and language.
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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