Parents' Guide to

Petting Zoo

By Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Bleak teen-pregnancy tale has mature themes, cursing.

Movie NR 2015 93 minutes
Petting Zoo Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

There aren't any parent reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: Not yet rated
Kids say: Not yet rated

Writer-director Magee's first movie, reportedly a version of her own early years, is shot in a leisurely, at times maddeningly slow, pace. A seemingly deliberate, documentary-like lack of focus dominates, as if the filmmaker has no idea what might happen next so she looks everywhere, in order to capture anything that might turn out to be important. The camera lingers on the moon in a night sky. Why? It spends an entire minute looking out the window of a train as treetops go by. Why? There are long moments looking through a wet windshield. Why? Long seconds are spent watching Layla lie down in a parked car, as if preparing for some terrible event that never arrives. Why? A close-up of some pages from the bible are seen for several seconds. Why? None of those images are given any special weight, so there is no meaning to be read into them.

The title is equally mysterious as there are no overt references to or metaphors about zoos, petting or otherwise. And Keller, as Layla, brings to the role a stillness reminiscent of Kristen Stewart, but the stillness could as easily be a sign of stupidity as of inner steel. Her emotionless face rarely betrays how she feels about any of this. Worse yet, Layla's world is a meaningless one. Grandmothers die for no reason. Fetuses die for no reason. In keeping with all that meaninglessness and randomness, the story has no real arc and one is left with a sense that when something good finally happens, luck has more to do with it than anything else. That may be a realistic observation, but it paints a pretty bleak picture.

Movie Details

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.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate