A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that MFKZ (titled Mutafukaz in other countries) may be animated, but it's definitely not for kids. This gritty, mature adaptation of French artist Guillaume "Run" Renard's graphic novel has tons of chaotic gun violence (including blood and gore) and strong language in practically every line of dialogue. The body count is ridiculously high, usually due to gunshot wounds, although car crashes and collapsing structures occasionally result in casualties, too. And some of the violence is close up and very bloody. Characters spew "motherf----r" and "f--k" in nearly every scene, as well as "s--t," "a--hole," "d--k," "pendejo," "ass," and more. There's also cigarette smoking and some drinking, as well as cleavage-baring outfits and jokes about a buxom character. The movie's nonstop violence and language overwhelm its fairly thin (and confusing) plot, but it's exactly the sort of film that some teens will want to see because of its slacker-cool main character and grimy, anti-establishment overtones.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
Based on French comic artist Guillaume "Run" Renard's graphic novel Mutafukaz, MFKZ is an urban dystopia that takes place in part of a futuristic Los Angeles, now known as "Dark Meat City," where main character Angelino (voiced by Kenn Michael), a round-faced (à la South Park) pizza delivery guy, crashes after spotting a beautiful young woman walking on the sidewalk. After the crash, Angelino loses his job and starts noticing that normal-looking folks, particularly of the white, business suit-wearing variety, have inhuman shadows. He can't figure out what's going on. But then one day, he and his roommate, Vinz (Vince Staples), whose head is a skull with flames coming out of it, are nearly shot out of their rundown apartment by mysterious men in black. Turns out the alien overlords do not want Angelino, who can distinguish between humans and those who've been alien-invaded, left alive. From there, the movie becomes even more of a survival tale for Angelino and his friends, including the hyper, wise-cracking Willy (Dino Andrade), a cat-like human.
Is it any good?
Despite its frenetic pace and Tarantino-level of ultra-violence, this dystopian thriller lags in parts and lacks a cohesive plot, so it will likely only satisfy ardent fans of violent anime. Even if you disregard its completely unanswered questions -- like why Angelino and his best friends look so stylized, while most other people look realistic -- the plot is somewhat confusing, and it's difficult to care about any of the main characters. There's some humor to break up the constant barrage of gunfire and death, but even viewers somewhat desensitized to violence and language may find it hard to get through all 94 minutes of MFKZ.
That's not to say there isn't an audience for this kid of gritty, grimy anime; there definitely is. And audiences interested in social commentary will find plenty to unpack or raise eyebrows at -- from the very name "Dark Meat City" to the fact that nearly all of the brown characters in the film are gun-wielding criminals. But most mainstream moviegoers will wonder what kind of off-putting chaos has taken over their screen. One of the most memorable supporting characters, however, is a Shakespeare-quoting gangster (voiced by RZA) who enjoys making sure that those he kills hear Hamlet before they're shot (it's a nod to Samuel L. Jackson's assassin in Pulp Fiction). Whether or not the movie sounds appealing, be warned: It's definitely not for kids or (most) teens.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in MFKZ. How much gore is shown? What effect does it have? Does animated violence have a different impact than live-action violence? Why?
The movie takes place in a fictional dystopian Los Angeles called Dark Meat City, where nearly everyone is a minority or supernatural looking. Meanwhile, the law enforcers and "men in black" are all white. What's the message of these choices?
Who do you think the movie's intended audience is? Why do people assume animated movies are all geared toward younger audiences? How is this movie an exception?
- In theaters: October 12, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: March 26, 2019
- Cast: Kenn Michael, Giancarlo Esposito, RZA
- Directors: Shojiro Nishimi, Guillaume 'Run' Renard
- Studio: GKIDS
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 94 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: bloody violence, language and some sexual content
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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