Movie review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
Monky Movie Poster Image
Seemingly silly tale actually has intense, difficult themes.
  • NR
  • 2017
  • 86 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

It's easier to get through tough times when everyone works together. It's important to acknowledge feelings in order to work through them.

Positive Role Models

The main character and his parents stand up for what they believe in, despite pushback from their community. Everyone in the family shows love and concern for one another.

Violence & Scariness

Two boys engage in a physical scuffle; a monkey bites one of the boys. The movie deals with loss/grief; (spoiler alert) the main character's younger sister dies early in the movie. 

Sexy Stuff

Adults kiss and embrace each other affectionately.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A character prepares an unidentified drug to give to a monkey to make it sleep during a long plane ride. Obscure verbal reference to adults drinking beer.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Monky may look like a lighthearted comedy, but it has some very intense dramatic themes that might not be right for all kids. Though much of the plot centers on silly hi-jinks as a family attempts to live in harmony with a monkey, the beginning and end deal with loss (a family member's death) and grieving. Other than that, there's not much iffy stuff: Parents give each other a hug and kiss, boys roll around on the ground in a brief fight; a monkey bites a boy, pees in the sink, and sits on a toilet; and a character prepares some kind of sleeping potion to give the monkey on a flight. The film is available in Swedish or dubbed into Italian. 

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What's the story?

MIA PICCOLA MONKY begins by introducing 11-year-old Frank (Julius Jimenez Hugoson) and his little sister (Nina Åkerlund), whose nickname is Monky because she dresses and acts exactly like a monkey. Monky is also very sick, and (spoiler alert) she soon dies -- but not before promising Frank that she'll never leave him. Frank and his parents are lost in their grief and struggling financially, until one day Frank finds a monkey in their yard. Who is this monkey, where did it come from, and what should they do with it? Frank, his parents, and his grandmother have conflicting views, but they all come together as they learn to let go of their little Monky and find their way.  

Is it any good?

This seemingly lighthearted comedy about living with a monkey is framed by intense grief and pain, which makes for an odd combination. Take away the themes of death and interspecies reincarnation, and Monky goes for some standard laughs about the perils of living with an undomesticated wild animal. There are the requisite bathroom jokes, the curious and astonished neighbors, and a lot of throwing food. Kids will likely find these parts hilarious. The best character may be the grandmother, who -- despite being set up as the foil who interferes with the family's plans -- consistently shows genuine concern for her family and ends up being perhaps the most logical of the bunch.

And, as sad as it is, the death of the little sister -- and the family's reaction to it -- could actually be something interesting to explore. But it feels as though the movie can't make up its mind. Is it a slapstick comedy for kids, or is it a deeper exploration about the effects of losing a child and how to move through grief? Some may feel uncomfortable about the way Monky mixes the two.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the how Frank and his family deal with their loss in Monky. How does the monkey help them work through their grief?

  • Is it right to keep a wild animal in your home? Do you think the monkey seemed sad? Was the family's choice in the end the best one for them -- and for the monkey? Why or why not?

  • What do you think happens when you die? Talk about your family's beliefs, whether guided by religion or not; be open to hearing what family members have to say.

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love animals

Themes & Topics

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