It's a Zoo in Here

Movie review by
Grace Montgomery, Common Sense Media
It's a Zoo in Here Movie Poster Image
Monkey caper is cute and clean but has muddled plot.
  • NR
  • 2014
  • 87 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Meant to entertain, not educate.

Positive Messages

Family is more important than work; being a team player is more important than winning.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mara and Chris rescue the monkey from an abusive home; Alan decides to put his family first.

Violence & Scariness

A kid knocks another kid down on purpose, Malik threatens the monkey, and the monkey throws things at Malik.

Sexy Stuff

Alan's boss inappropriately flirts with him; some flirting, one kiss on the cheek, and some hand-holding between kids.

Language

Some mild name-calling, such as "loser."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

An adult drinks wine at dinner.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that It's a Zoo in Here (also known as Monkey in the Middle) is a family comedy about kids taking in an escaped monkey that has some positive messages about fair play during sports and the fair treatment of animals. This mostly clean flick has only some mild name-calling and a little slapstick violence. But it does have some inappropriate flirting by a boss toward her employee and some mild flirting, a kiss, and some hand-holding between the adolescent characters. 

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What's the story?

Chris (Jacob Horsley) has just moved in with his workaholic dad, Alan (Ry Barrett), in a new town and is having trouble making friends. But when he joins the local soccer team, he meets Mara (Soma Bhatia), his cute new neighbor who's also an animal advocate. When she invites him to liberate the mistreated animals from Malik the Magnificent's (Keith Cooper) show at the local fair, Chris unintentionally ends up bringing home Momo, a performing monkey. As Malik starts combing the neighborhood to find his missing monkey, Chris must keep Momo a secret from his dad, try to impress Mara with his soccer skills, and try to get the best of bully Jackson, (Christian Vespi) who wants to beat Chris on the soccer field and win Mara's heart.

Is it any good?

IT'S A ZOO IN HERE has a lot of elements that might appeal to a lot of kinds of kids: animal hijinks, soccer drama, and some cute adolescent romance. Unfortunately, there are too many plot elements and too many conflicts, making the movie mostly feel a bit muddled. Chris is struggling with hiding a monkey, trying to get his workaholic dad to pay attention to him, learning how to do the perfect free kick, and dealing with a bully who wants to make his life miserable. And the character of Chris' dad has a whole subplot dealing with a creepy boss who'd rather keep him at work all evening and on weekends so she can flirt with him. There's just too much going on.

The acting also is pretty bad, from both the adult and kid actors. With so many other fun animal adventures out there, this is one you can safely skip.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Chris' rescue of Momo the monkey. Do you think it was right for him to hide the monkey? Or should he have given him back to his owner?

  • If you know an adult is doing something wrong, what are some ideas of things you could do, depending on the stituation?

  • In sports, which is more important to you: playing fair or winning?

Movie details

For kids who love animal tales

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