A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Noah's Ark (or El arca) is an Argentine-Italian (dubbed into English) animated comedic retelling of the biblical story. It looks like an all-ages family movie, but it contains some material that is suggestive, crass, mature, rude, and inappropriate or confusing for younger children. It has some positive messages about teamwork and some nods to the notions about faith and loyalty found in the original tale. But many of these lessons are muddled by a movie largely driven by constant bickering, politics, and murderous plots that are confusing or too explicit for younger kids. Animals fight, discuss eating each other, and there also moments of peril when the ark nearly capsizes. There are also a number of sexually-suggestive scenes that seem inappropriate for the target audience. Animals are sexualized and dance provocatively toward each other. In one scene, the camera cuts to two animals who have seemingly just had sex. A lion refers to a list of potential suitors as "hot chicks" and is both disparaging and disrespectful about them. This review is based on the 2014 DVD version of the movie, which omits some scenes from the 2007 original version.
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What's the story?
In NOAH'S ARK the world has gone to pot and it's up to Noah (Joe Carey) to help God (Ron Von Paulus) start over by building an ark and loading up two of every animal species he can find. But how will Noah convince the animals, or his bickering family, for that matter, to get on board before the rain starts? And what about the hesitant, vain lion king Xiro (James Keller) -- can he help them all get along if he can't even convince himself to lead? What happens if they run out of food, or worse, everyone turns on each other? Noah's and everyone's limits are more than cosmically tested when he decides to take God up on the ultimate ask.
Is it any good?
Noah's Ark is a biblical retelling that manages to potentially alienate both its natural audience of true believers and the secular crowd who might just enjoy a good story. Here, God is a nonchalant, golf-playing roustabout who is more concerned about getting good material for his future book than he is about how the animals and Noah will pull off his crazy loyalty test. That premise is amusing enough, but it plays out in a dragging plot overloaded with bickering and some pretty questionable material. The early setup, with its references to debt and gluttony and, yes, prostitution -- an attempt to show the world as a lost cause in need of a do-over in the shape of a flood -- will likely cause a bit of confusion for young kids. But if that doesn't do it, the rest of the film will -- animals plot murder (sometimes rather explicitly), while Xiro the lion king-in-waiting has to decide whether he will ever stop chasing a promiscuous tiger named Panty (not kidding) long enough to get his act together and lead.
There are fart jokes, some drinking, a bit of cartoonish violence, and a spat where one female cat calls another one fat. For a story out of the bible, there are surprisingly few good role models. But for kids who like animals and big boats, and parents who will take any version of a bible story they can get, there are ultimately positive messages about working together. If you can ignore the greed, murder, sex, and farting jokes.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the cartoon violence in Noah's Ark. Did you find any of the scenes too extreme for a movie like this? Did the fact that there were no serious consequences make a difference to how you felt about the scenes? What's the impact of media violence on kids?
Discuss the positive messages in the movie. What examples of teamwork can you give from the movie? Why is teamwork such an important character trait to have? When have you used teamwork to achieve something in real life? How can I use media to teach my kid teamwork?
What do you know of the original Noah story? What happens in the version you are familiar with? How did this movie compare to that?
Have you ever been stuck together with a group of people for a long time, perhaps on a family trip? What was it like? Did you get along? Why or why not? How can people get along better when they are stuck with each other for a period of time?
The story of Noah's Ark is really about starting again. Is there anything you would start again if you could? What would it be, and why? How would it change things?
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