A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Strong, clear messages about not letting fear take over your life -- don't miss out on beauty, happiness, connection, and adventure because you're afraid of what might happen. Also emphasizes the importance of friendship, courage, and honesty.
Positive Role Models
Gideonette understandably spends a lot of time being afraid about death and her family's supposed curse, but, thanks to friendship and courage, she learns to overcome her fear. Bhubesi is a loyal, encouraging friend. Gideonette's grandparents are supportive and sympathetic, if sometimes impatient (especially her grandfather). Her mother is fragile but clearly loves her. Her father suffers from depression and anxiety, which has a big impact on her life, but he, too, loves her dearly.
Violence & Scariness
A couple of very sad deaths, one involving a parent, the other a young child; part of the adult's body is shown (non-graphic), but the child's isn't. A lot of darkness and gloom overall, though not much actual violence. The plot centers on characters' fear of a supposed family curse. A hairy monster/creature looms large in Gideonette's dreams/imagination; her fear of it could inspire a similar fear in young viewers. Gideonette's father's diaries are full of dark thoughts. Arguments. For awhile, Gideonette is preoccupied by the many ways she could die. Suicide is mentioned.
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In subtitles, a couple of uses of "damn," plus "stupid." Gideonette yells at Bhubesi, calling him a "pathetic dog," among other things.
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Products & Purchases
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
References to Gideonette's mother being an alcoholic.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Meerkat Moonship is a subtitled South African drama about a girl named Gideonette (Anchen du Plessis) who believes she's destined to die young due to a family curse. While it's ultimately poignant and life-affirming, with strong messages about the importance of friendship and conquering your fears, much of the film is fairly gloomy in tone, with Gideonette morbidly afraid of the many things that could kill her. Her fear takes the form of a looming, indistinct monster, which could scare younger viewers. There are also a couple of very sad deaths, one fairly early in the film and one toward the end; both involve characters who are very important to Gideonette and have a big impact on her. Characters argue and occasionally yell at each other, but language is minimal ("damn" and "stupid" subtitled in English. There's no sex or substance use to worry about. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This poignant, sometimes melancholy South African drama doesn't shy away from tackling some of kids' biggest fears -- particularly death. Meerkat Moonship doesn't sugarcoat its story, though it does balance the sad parts with enough smile-inducing, whimsical moments to avoid getting completely stuck in the darker elements. But it's in taking Gideonette's fears as seriously as it does that the film really succeeds. Neither the adults in her life nor the film itself ever condescend to her; she's able to express how she's feeling, and she's given lots of time and space to heal.
Du Plessis turns in a strong performance as the grieving girl -- she may be watchful and often silent on the outside, but her internal monologue is going a mile a minute. The cast in general is strong; Ntuli's turn as Bhubesi is completely endearing, and his scenes of blossoming friendship with Gideonette are some of the movie's sweetest. They may seem like an unlikely pair, but each helps the other in important ways, and the strength of their connection underlines the movie's message of unconditional friendship. It's not always easy to watch, but Meerkat Moonship has important take-aways for kids and could be a great pick for tweens dealing with their own losses.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.