Movie review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
Joey Movie Poster Image
Kangaroo adventure has some iffy behavior, scary scenes.
  • PG
  • 2003
  • 96 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Joey delivers strong pro-animal rights and animal conservation messages, as well as messages about doing the right thing, and how passion is what makes the person.

Positive Role Models & Representations

There's a mix of good guys and bad guys here, with some simply drawn bumbling cops and cartoonish villains. But in between are many caring and present adults who are not perfect, but who aim to be forces of good for their children and communities. 


The movie has some sustained peril and menace throughout. In an opening scene, armed men in a truck attempt to shoot a family of kangaroos, and then pursue a teenage boy on a wild chase. Men are thrown from a truck into a pond. Two boys wrestle and fight in another scene. A fairly frightening-looking masked man wearing studded leather boxing gloves chases and intimidates a boy. Elsewhere, there's a grab bag of casual and slapstick violence, from toes being stomped on, to near car crashes, to a man and kangaroo boxing.


There's some very brief implied innuendo when a teen girl models a red dress while faux-campy sexy music plays in the background, and a woman asks a teen boy what he thinks of the girl's dress.


In one brief early scene, "goddamn" is muttered during a fight between two teen boys. Elsewhere, there are run-of-the-mill non-profane insults, such as calling a kangaroo a "mongrel."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A man holds a glass of wine in one brief scene.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Joey's premise involves a teen boy whose father is absent and presumed dead, and later, a teen girl whose mother has died recently. The majority of the film involves a teen boy who has run away. Additionally, in a few key scenes, the teen boy drives a vehicle without a license and without consequence. He also steals money to further a positive goal, though in the end he pays the money back. There's mild profanity ("goddamn") and sustained peril, and some potentially frightening or confusing inclusions for younger kids -- such as a scary character with studded leather gloves and a face mask, and a plot that involves an underground animal-against-man fighting ring. 

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What's the story?

When Billy McGregor (Jamie Croft) rescues a baby kangaroo -- called a joey -- from the uncertain fate of a family of 'roos captured from a nearby farm, he quickly realizes his duty: to return the baby to its family in the Australian Outback. The problem is that their whereabouts are unknown, and the neighbors who ordered their capture are after him. He's in luck when the daughter (Alex McKenna) of a visiting U.S. ambassador (Ed Begley, Jr.) shares his convictions, but can they return the joey safely without inciting an international incident?

Is it any good?

JOEY offers a passionate teen boy who really cares about animal conservation and a mother who supports her son's calling and encourages it, even in the face of taunts of his "weirdness." Parents will appreciate the positive messages and wacky heroics of the two kids who are trying to do right by the animal in their charge.

But there's also some not-so-great stuff, like sustained peril and the appearance of an extra-scary henchman who could almost be straight out of a Texas Chainsaw movie, not to mention the underground fighting ring that may need some explaining. Still, older kids will enjoy the suspense, the Outback setting, and the abundant silliness and slapstick humor.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about animal conservation efforts. What animals are extinct or near extinction where you live? What steps are being taken to protect them or preserve their natural habitat?

  • Have you ever had to do something dishonest to accomplish something good? What was the result? Was there a way to avoid doing something wrong to make things right?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love animals

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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