My Life as a Zucchini

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
My Life as a Zucchini Movie Poster Image
Animated drama about orphan is touching, unforgettable.
  • PG-13
  • 2017
  • 70 minutes
 Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 9 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 10 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Sweet messages about redemption, family being more than blood, and the transformative power of friendship. The story encourages empathy for others.

Positive Role Models & Representations

While some adults are shown to be manipulative and neglectful, the caretakers at the home are clearly involved and caring with the kids. They even take them on trips. Raymond doesn't give up on Zucchini, and Zucchini doesn't give up on Camille. Simon shows that a bully is still human and can redeem himself. The kids all have heartbreaking, sad pasts -- and they're not always kind to one another -- but they ultimately care about one another very much and build their own family and community.

Violence

A mother dies in an accident when she drunkenly falls down steps. Simon teases Zucchini and calls him "potato" for a little while, pushes a chair out from under him, and pushes other kids; he also makes fun of the other kids' quirks/issues, shines a light at a frightened boy, and spitefully steals and flies Zucchini's beloved kite. One kid is hurt, ending up a bit bloody and bruised. An aunt is rough with her niece and says she's "just like her mother" in a cruel way. Camille shoots a gun at a carnival and explains that her father taught her to shoot, but that a gun is also how he killed her mother and himself. Some of the kids have nightmares about what happened to them in their past. Simon tells Zucchini that one girl's father used to do "gross things to her." A woman rudely accuses a boy of stealing her daughter's ski goggles, even though the girl had let him borrow them.

Sex

Some of the kids discuss sex in a comedic fashion; Simon explains that when a boy and a girl do it, a boy's "willy explodes" and that a girl "becomes agreeable," gets sweaty, and says "yes" a lot. A couple that works at the home kisses in front of the kids. The woman becomes pregnant, and the kids joke that the man's willy exploded.

Language

Discussion of sex includes the terms "willy," "the thing," "explosions," and other euphemisms.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Zucchini's mother was obviously an alcoholic: His home was littered with discarded beer cans, to the point that he made recycled art out of the cans and kept one as a memento of her.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that My Life as a Zucchini is an Oscar-nominated French-Swiss animated movie about an orphaned boy nicknamed Zucchini who goes to live in a group foster home. The occasionally mature subject matter -- including the death of Zucchini's alcoholic mother and references to sex, abuse, violence, suicide, deportation, and other reasons children end up in state care -- makes the movie most appropriate for older tweens and up. Kids comically discuss sex, and there's a brief scene of a couple kissing, as well as one in which kids confront their pregnant caretaker about how she became pregnant. Expect some sad moments and conversations, but lots of funny and touching ones, too. There's plenty to talk about after watching movie, and it ultimately has a happy ending, as well as messages about family, friendship, and empathy.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 9 and 15 year old Written byMeowstiic T. December 20, 2017

Movie has Very Dark Themes, Weird Stuff, Sexual Things

The movie touched me and pulled at my heartstrings, but I felt that it just wasn't aimed at kids. There's a really sexual scene where a young kid tell... Continue reading
Parent of a 15 and 15 year old Written bydeuxbebes April 18, 2018

Not for kids, tweens, nor teens

We got as far as the boys talking about sex and shut it off. The boy not only describes sex but also male orgasm, which was completely inappropriate for any... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old April 17, 2017

It's an awesome movie that should be rated PG!

I saw it at a film festival thirteen days before its actual release date and I loved it!! When I first saw the rating it said the movie was rated pg-13. I was a... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old March 12, 2017

Woah!

This movie is utterly fantastic! I put for ages 6 and up because some of the content might be above their heads but I trust you with this one. It does have a li... Continue reading

What's the story?

MY LIFE AS A ZUCCHINI is a French-Swiss stop-motion animated film about a 9-year-old boy nicknamed Zucchini (voiced by Gaspard Schlatter in the original and Erick Abbate in the English-dubbed version) who ends up in a group foster home after his alcoholic mother dies suddenly in a home accident. Raymond (Michel Vuillermoz, Nick Offerman), the kind police officer who takes Zucchini to the home, stays in touch with the boy as he adjusts to the social hierarchy of the home. Simon (Paulin Jaccoud) is the worldly alpha kid with bullyish tendencies, but he's eventually won over. The rest of the crew -- Ahmed, Alice, Jujube, and Beatrice -- is sweet and unassuming, but they all have heartbreaking stories. The kids bond and form a routine -- and then a new orphan named Camille (Sixtine Murat, Ness Krell) arrives. Zucchini is instantly smitten with her, but her time in the home is threatened by a secretly cruel aunt, who threatens to take Camille away.

Is it any good?

Director Claude Barras' adaptation of Gilles Paris' novel isn't quite a coming-of-age story, but it's every bit as poignant. And the gorgeous animation and whip-smart dialogue make it a delightful pick for tweens and up. My Life as Zucchini can be heartbreaking, it but never loses sight of how resilient children are, even when they've seen the horrors of violence and abuse and abandonment. Despite their difficult backgrounds, Zucchini, Simon, and their housemates just want to be cared for and to belong -- and for the most part, they do. "They're all the same," Simon tells Zucchini -- whether it's because a parent was arrested, deported, died, or just left. These are kids who have no one to claim them as their own, at least at first.

Like some of Studio Ghibli or LAIKA's edgier offerings, My Life as Zucchini isn't meant for very young kids, and that's refreshing. Not all animated films need to cater to the early-elementary set, and this one is clearly best for kids who are mature enough to appreciate the characters' difficult circumstances (and of course, to deal with the hilarious conversation the boys have about "that thing between boys and girls"). This is a story that brings up so much, and it's all treated beautifully -- from the bully redeemed to the power of puppy love to the importance of friendship to the fact that families can be more than blood relations. If your family enjoys stop-motion animation and your kids are ready for big themes with a side of laughter and possibly tears, this is a must-see film.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the conversations about sex and violence in My Life As Zucchini. Do you think they're necessary to the story? Why or why not?

  • Are any characters in the movie role models? Which ones, and why? How do they learn and demonstrate empathy? Why is that an important character strength?

  • How is this story similar to and different from other stories about orphans or kids in group homes? Why is it memorable that the caretakers were actually caring?

  • Why do you think some of the kids weren't friendly toward the police officer who visits Zucchini? What does Zucchini mean when he says that cops are the reason some of the kids don't have parents?

  • Why do you think Simon treats Zucchini the way he does at first? Is he a bully? How does their relationship change, and why?

Movie details

Character Strengths

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Themes & Topics

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