Life in a Day

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Life in a Day Movie Poster Image
Insightful docu features thousands of YouTube clips.
  • PG-13
  • 2011
  • 93 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The movie's overwhelming message is that in a single day, most humans experience more similarities than differences -- we wake up, eat, work, play, love, and go to sleep. Because it was shot by hundreds of filmmakers from around the world, there's a universality to the movie that demonstrates how we're all global siblings going about our day; it's just the culture that changes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Since the movie doesn't follow any characters for much time, it's hard to identify any role models. A widower father makes a heartfelt statement about how at least his family is alive, even if they have very little shelter, food, or money. A couple renews their vows after 50 years of marriage. But on the other hand, one man is shown shoplifting a snack from a convenience store.


Disturbing images include people living in poverty (sleeping on floors, children with no shoes living 14 to a single room); coverage of the deadly Love Parade in Germany that resulted in trampling (viewers see emergency medical technicians working on a person prostate on the floor and transferring other injured or possibly dead people); a few people who carry weapons in their pockets; and the grisly, bloody sight of a cow being slaughtered (first shot in the head with an air gun, then nearly decapitated by a butcher).


In the "What Do You Love?" segment, there are shots of couples holding hands, hugging, and kissing and a woman in a bra sitting with her back to the camera. During an anniversary ceremony, the priest reads vows written by the groom that jokingly ask whether the bride is willing to perform oral sex more often, plus other sexual innuendo.


Most of the language is via subtitles; spoken words include "bulls--t," "s--t," "ass," "damn," "goddamn," "prick," and the like.


During the "What Do You Carry Around?" section, people pull out everything from a purse containing all Marc Jacobs accessories to a Lamborghini keychain and car.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A few people around the world are shown drinking (in fact, the opening shot is of a drunk-looking man confirming that the date is July 24, 2010). One man (whose face isn't shown) confesses to having syringes in his pockets.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that since this documentary was culled from thousands of hours of YouTube footage submitted by regular people from all over the world, it depicts everything from births to deaths, love to loss, morning to night -- some of which may be disturbing to younger viewers. There's a particularly grisly scene of a cow being slaughtered (viewers see it being shot in the head with an air gun and then having its throat slit open) and some quick glimpses of the Love Parade in Germany, where several people were crushed to death (footage shows EMTs rushing to help people who appear dead or unconscious). An elderly couple renews their vows in a ceremony that includes promises of more sex and other innuendo. The language, frequently included in subtitles, includes "bulls--t," "damn," "prick," and more. A young gay man comes out to his grandmother over the phone.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byawesomemeerkat July 26, 2020


PERFECTO! makes you appreciate life more.
Adult Written byWalking Tom December 16, 2011

A great snapshot of our world

This is a phenominal project that puts together footage from all over the world. By the way, it is not YouTube videos, but rather a project of collaboration fro... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byDoctor.Sherlock... January 3, 2021

I watched this too young.

My parents forced me to watch this too young. I didn’t want to see it but they made me. I was 7 so I don’t really have a good perspective on this. It traumatize... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byFILMCRITIC500 March 24, 2012

its made of OVER 9,000! youtube videos

a great film for evryone. there are a few disturbing scenes, such as a grisly scene in a slaughterhouse, showing a quite disgusting image of a dead cow. another... Continue reading

What's the story?

Director Kevin Macdonald and producer Ridley Scott collaborated with YouTube to create a global film using amateur video footage from a single day -- July 24, 2010. The filmmakers put a call out for videos and received 80,000 submissions from people in 140 countries, totaling 4,500 hours from the same 24-hour period. They narrowed the movie down to 94 minutes depicting LIFE IN A DAY: montages of people waking up, getting dressed, going to the bathroom, making meals, having babies, getting married, going to work, and generally going about their lives.

Is it any good?

Parts of this "we are one big global family" experiment work incredibly, if predictably, well. One great example is the quickly edited scenes of people eating, drinking, and moving against their various cultural backdrops. Some of the people we see a bit longer than others are poignant as they try to share snippets of life -- walking around in Kabul, filming their son's first shave, coming out to their grandmother on the phone. Other aspects of the movie may raise a cynic's eyebrow -- did we really need to see the smug look of satisfaction on face of the middle-aged-man who drives a Lamborghini? -- or lose viewers with short attention spans.


Parents will particularly enjoy the segments that feature families. One of the funniest videos is of the hilarious 50th anniversary vow renewal of an English couple named Ann and John; the priest asks Ann on John's behalf "Will you do that thing you promised you'd let John do on his 40th birthday, but still have not yet done?" In contrast, a newlywed couple is shown being toasted by their best man, who explains that when two creatures live together, they should expect to mate, but also some blood. Another favorite shows a clueless new father attempting to quote Walt Whitman while his exhausted wife holds their newborn twins and snaps at him to stop being selfish and come watch the babies. Ultimately, the idea that human beings are all more similar than they are different isn't that original, but the film is still an insigtful, worthy reminder that all of us take it one day at a time.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what the documentary demonstrates about the universality of humankind. How are we alike, no matter where we live in the world? How are we different?

  • How did technology impact the making of this documentary? Could it have been made in the pre-digital age?

  • What did you learn about various cultures? Did anything surprise you about the way people in other parts of the world go about their day?

  • What would you include in a video of a typical day in your own life?

Movie details

  • In theaters: July 24, 2011
  • On DVD or streaming: November 8, 2011
  • Directors: Joseph Michael, Kevin Macdonald
  • Studio: National Geographic
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Run time: 93 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG-13
  • MPAA explanation: disturbing violent images, language and a sexual reference
  • Last updated: September 20, 2019

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