The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou

  • Review Date: May 8, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 119 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Another quirkfest from Wes Anderson; not for kids.
  • Review Date: May 8, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 119 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Characters behave badly in many ways, from being cruel to each other to stealing.


Violence and peril, including guns, characters killed.


Non-sexual nudity, non-explicit sexual references and situations.


Very strong language.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Drinking, smoking, drug use.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie includes very strong language, non-sexual nudity (topless sunbathing), and non-explicit sexual references and situations, including pregnancy from an adulterous affair and bisexuality. Characters drink, smoke, and smoke marijuana. Characters behave badly in many ways, from being cruel to each other to stealing. Characters are in peril and there are violent encounters with deadly animals and various weapons, including guns. Some characters are killed.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU is the story of Jacques Cousteau-like explorer Steve Zissou (Bill Murray), who finances his expeditions by filming them. He has not had a successful movie in nine years. His wife (Anjelica Huston) strides around chain-smoking and making bitter comments. She maintains a flirty relationship with her bisexual ex-husband, Alistair Hennessey (Jeff Goldblum), who happens to be Zissou's rival. Zissou's new mission is not about science; it is about revenge. He wants to kill the "jaguar shark" that killed his friend. His motley crew includes the high strung Klaus Daimler (Willem Dafoe) and some newcomers: Ned Plimpton (Owen Wilson), a naval officer who could be Zissou's son, Bill Ubell (Bud Cort), assigned to watch over them by the bond company, and Jane Winslett-Richardson (Cate Blanchett), an intrepid English journalist who is pregnant. Steve and Ned go off in their run-down ship and end up engaging with pirates, stealing equipment from Hennessey, and developing a romantic rivalry for Jane.

Is it any good?


Another quirkfest from Wes Anderson (Rushmore, Bottle Rocket, The Royal Tenenbaums), this is filled with imaginatively charming images and Anderson's trademark oddball characters from a mix of cultures, all speaking in his signature corkscrew speech and reacting as though no two of them speak the same language. He's great with situations, visuals, and deadpan delivery of weird, almost absurd, dialogue. But increasingly, it all seems to be tricks without any meaning or insight behind them, cleverness for the sake of cleverness, without any heart or soul. Or art. College students can deconstruct to their hearts' delight, but it's their own meaning they will bring to the movie, not Anderson's.

Anderson benefits tremendously from the always-engaging production design by Mark Friedberg, a delightful score by former Devo-ian Mark Mothersbaugh, and the always-engaging performances by top-notch actors clearly enjoying themselves, especially Goldblum, Dafoe, and Blanchett. The script, by Anderson and Noah Baumbach takes some bad turns in the last half hour that feel sour and unsatisfying. Anderson is getting close to Emperor's New Clothes-time here, and eventually someone is going to point out that when it comes to the substance, he has nothing on.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why Steve seemed more attached to his friend who was killed than to anyone else in his family or crew. What mattered to him? What mattered to Ned and Jane? What did it add to her character to have her pregnant?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 10, 2004
DVD release date:May 10, 2005
Cast:Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Owen Wilson
Director:Wes Anderson
Studio:Buena Vista
Run time:119 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language, some drug use, violence and partial nudity

This review of The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byPan April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age


I love this movie, but I know not everyone will get it!! You have to have an IQ larger than your shoe size, dearies :) No, I wouldn't say this is for the kids, or for most adults...they're just too ignorant :)
Adult Written byalexo21 April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age


Not good for kids. Partial nudity, drugs, violence. And why would any kid or even older teen want to watch this. It's very very slow paced and boring. To tell you the truth I didn't understand the message of this movie if there was one. I was hoping for something good with Murray and Wilson but it's a huuuge waste of time.
Adult Written byjennbeau April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

Very odd

This was very weird...I only really watched it because Owen Wilson was in it! LOL I was glad that he finally got to see the shark that he was searching for


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