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The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou Movie Poster Image
Another quirkfest from Wes Anderson; not for kids.
  • R
  • 2004
  • 119 minutes
Parents recommend

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 8 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

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.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking, smoking, drug use.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byhamstergurl09 August 9, 2012


This is by far one of the best films I've seen in quite a while. Out of all Wes Anderson's movies, this one is my favorite. It's very quirky, and... Continue reading
Adult Written byPan April 9, 2008


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 k... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byRyan Peter May 26, 2014

Main Reviewer:

How is a "sex" point added just because a character is bisexual. If you can't deal with your kids witnessing such horrors of the modern world, t... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byThe Cheap Seats February 13, 2014

The Deeper You Go, the Weirder Life Gets

"The Life Aquatic" is one of my favorites from Wes Anderson. It's visuals are beautiful and the use of stop-motion is genius. It adds to this dre... Continue reading

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, this is filled with imaginatively charming images and Anderson's trademark oddball characters from a mix of cultures. They all speaking in his signature corkscrew speech and react as though no two of them speak the same language. Anderson is great with situations, visuals, and deadpan delivery of weird, almost absurd, dialogue. But increasingly, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou 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.

Talk to your kids 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 in The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. What mattered to him? What mattered to Ned and Jane? What did it add to her character to have her pregnant?

Movie details

For kids who love quirky characters

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