The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou Movie Poster Image

The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou



Another quirkfest from Wes Anderson; not for kids.
  • 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.

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. 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/Streaming 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

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What parents and kids say

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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, than maybe you shouldn't be allowed to choose your your opinion as the best choice for anything. I'm not one ti discount anyone else's views of the world, but I can sure as hell disagree.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
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 I can understand why some people might not really get it. Wes Anderson has a very different way of looking at the world, judging by his films, and I appreciate that. This film has a great story, with lots of interesting stuff happening, like pirate ambushes and extraordinary adventures. It is both funny and dramatic. The acting is excellent. The visuals are imaginative (including some cool stop-motion sea creatures animated by Henry Selick!). People's reviews on here make it sound like this film is X rated or something; it's really not that bad. Characters smoke and swear, and there's some kissing. An affair and bisexuality are mentioned. Seriously, it's not even that bad! I highly recommend this film for people interested in marine biology or a compelling story.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
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 dreamy, other-worldly element that the film has going for it. "The Life Aquatic" is not only a blast but it explores human relationships to a large extent. It's a great movie tame despite its R rating. There are only a few f-words and milder profanities and brief topless nudity twice. There is some brief violence but it's very tame and done in a comedic manner. B+.
What other families should know
Too much swearing


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