Movie review by
Michael Ordona, Common Sense Media
Jane Movie Poster Image
Engaging Goodall docu has a little violence, language.
  • NR
  • 2017
  • 90 minutes

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 3 reviews

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Goodall's discoveries in the fields of primatology and anthropology have baked-in educational value; they changed the way we think of chimpanzees and our relationship to primates. Her very long study can't help but affect the way viewers feel about animals, their ability to think and feel and relate to each other. And her personal story has a lot to teach as well. 

Positive Messages

Goodall's story epitomizes the values of perseverance, hard work, determination, curiosity, and compassion. There's also thoughtful discussion about parenting techniques and conservation. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Goodall exemplifies courage and independent thinking; she turned her lack of scientific training into an advantage. She pursued her dream and made a life out of it, uncovering valuable scientific knowledge along the way. She also demonstrates compassion, and her love isn't constrained to the animal kingdom. She went her own way at a time when it was unheard of in her extremely male-dominated field; she's gone on to become one of the most revered figures in primatology and anthropology. 

Violence & Scariness

Some animal-on-animal violence, but nothing too graphic is shown. Chimps fight; some lions kill a zebra. The aftermath of bloody conflict is shown and described. Mild animal vs. human peril.

Sexy Stuff

Chimp mating shown in one scene discussing their reproductive habits. A human baby/young boy is briefly shown naked, in a nonsexual context.


One humorous use of "s--t" (as in "baboon s--t").

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Smoking is discussed, disapprovingly.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Jane is an engaging documentary about famed primatologist Jane Goodall. As is typical for nature documentaries, there's some animal-on-animal violence; things don't get graphic, but some beloved animals do eventually die. Chimps are also shown mating, and there's one humorous use of "s--t." There's also some talk about divorce and other personal choices of the humans involved in the story, which might require some explaining for the youngest viewers. Goodall is an excellent example of someone who marched to her own drummer and became a pioneer in her field; her story epitomizes the values of perseverance, hard work, determination, curiosity, and compassion.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 10-year-old Written byshawzimbler June 8, 2019

Truly wonderful film

This film is utterly charming and absolutely compelling. A lot of parents think their kids won't be interested in documentaries, but my 9 year old son was... Continue reading
Adult Written bycaringreen April 21, 2020


Lovely, gorgeous and heartfelt documentary. The 1960's never before seen footage included is a treasure and a visual treat. The story is about a woman name... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byMovie- Book reviewer October 28, 2017

Too much for young kids

Jane, a documentary about Jane Goodall and her studying chimps. This was a very informative movie showing how alike humans and chimpanzees are. At one point, Ja... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byLoranikas303 April 18, 2020

Educational movie but not a Tarzan Spin-off

Well, that’s unnecessary uttering “s**t” in educational movie and it gets PG rating. I’m not a parent when I grow up because Pregnancy is painful and have less... Continue reading

What's the story?

JANE is an intimate documentary about the life and career of renowned primatologist, ethologist, and anthropologist Jane Goodall. Newly unearthed footage and exclusive interviews trace her journey from an untrained, animal-loving young woman in a field dominated by men to one of the most respected names of her time. Much of the film centers around her observation post in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania, Africa, as she struggles to win the trust of the local chimpanzees, and then uses unconventional methods to uncover key information about them and their similarities to humans. 

Is it any good?

Previously unseen footage and exclusive interviews give this documentary a fresh, intimate feeling that will reward even veteran Jane Goodall fans. Jane offers absorbing insight into a living legend. Her story epitomizes perseverance, curiosity, and compassion. She started out as an untrained young woman in a scientific era that was completely dominated by men. But she turned her lack of formal schooling into the advantage of freedom: Her unconventional approach may well have unlocked key discoveries in primatology. 

Philip Glass (Koyaanisqatsi) turns in a lush, very Philip Glass score that beautifully complements Jane's images -- many of which are rare, taken by Goodall's then husband, revered wildlife photographer and cinematographer Hugo van Lawick. Director Brett Morgen (Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck) crafts a warm, flowing portrait of one of our time's leading women of science. There are moments of humor and emotion, triumph and loss. It's a fitting tribute to a remarkable person. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what makes Jane Goodall a role model. How does she demonstrate perseverance, curiosity, and compassion? Why are those important character strengths?

  • What were Jane's major breakthroughs? Why were they significant (what do you think they meant)? 

  • How is the work of scientists typically depicted in movies and on TV? How was Goodall's real experience different? 

  • Some of the animal violence/death scenes may be upsetting, but they're also part of nature. How do kids feel about seeing some animals attack others?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

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