A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie addresses the subjects of endangered animals and poaching.
Violence & Scariness
A poacher kills Joe's mom (a gorilla) and Jill's mom (a primate specialist) in the traumatic opening scene. Joe crushes a bystander's leg and kills his attacker by throwing him against some power lines. In the climactic sequence, a child is barely rescued from a burning Ferris wheel.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that a poacher kills Joe's mom (a gorilla) and Jill's mom (a primate specialist) in the traumatic opening scene. Joe crushes a bystander's leg and kills his attacker by throwing him against some power lines. In the climactic sequence, a child is barely rescued from a burning Ferris wheel. The movie addresses the subjects of endangered animals and poaching. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Animal lovers will be charmed by Joe, a giant but gentle gorilla. In an attempt to show how endangered some species really are, MIGHTY JOE YOUNG includes a couple of hard-hitting sequences, but it remains thrilling family fun. There are times when you just have to shake your head at Hollywood's desire to remake a classic. This is not one of those times. The 1949 RKO version of Mighty Joe Young is a tired monster film of the ape-runs-amuck variety that tried (unsuccessfully) to cash in on the popularity of King Kong. In contrast, this Disney version has plenty to offer a young audience. With a nod to the more adult Gorillas in the Mist, the movie centers on the daughter of a Dian Fossey-like primatologist. As Jill follows in her mom's footsteps, this environmentally-friendly story provides serious food for thought. It also provides plenty of comic relief.
Joe is more Curious George than King Kong. His favorite pastime is hide and seek, yet he doesn't seem to realize that at 15 feet tall, he is a bit too big to hide behind a bush. Joe is a feat of technical wizardry; he's so life-like that it's hard to believe he's a composite of animatronic and digital effects. Children will warm to him, especially since Joe is particularly sweet to kids. They will also enjoy Theron's and Paxton's engaging performances, and applaud (as an 8 year-old viewer did) when this couple inevitably gets together. If the climactic sequence is too intense for small children, it certainly ends happily. Mighty Joe Young turns out to be a heart-warming experience with an environmental message.
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.