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Animal Kingdom (2010)

Ben Mendelsohn , Joel Edgerton , David Michôd  |  R |  DVD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Ben Mendelsohn, Joel Edgerton
  • Directors: David Michôd
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
  • DVD Release Date: January 18, 2011
  • Run Time: 113 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003Y5H4R0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,580 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Animal Kingdom" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Evil is relative in this chilling tale of betrayal and blood starring Guy Pearce, Ben Mendelsohn and Joel Edgerton. When his mother dies from a overdose, 17-year-old Josh Cody (James Frecheville) is taken in by his grandmother (Jacki Weaver) and uncles, the most notorious criminal gang in the city. So when tensions between the Codys and a squad of renegade cops land him at the center of a cold-blooded murder plot, Josh is forced to choose between his treacherous family and the lawless police in this shattering thriller.

The title leaves no doubt about the nature contained in this Australian crime picture: the law of the jungle prevails, and it's kill or be killed out there. That's the belief within the Cody clan, anyway, the Melbourne criminal family whose exploits give Animal Kingdom its fire. The central character is something of a deliberate vacancy, a blank slate for the movie to write on: 17-year-old Joshua, known as J (James Frechville), is taken in by his grandmother after his mother dies of an overdose (a memorably chilling opening scene). Grandma (Jacki Weaver) is known as Smurf, but don't let the name fool you: she's the Ma Barker-like matriarch of a brood of sociopaths, none more lethal than oldest son Andrew, known as the Pope (a blood-curdling performance by Ben Mendelsohn). Luke Ford and Sullivan Stapleton play her other sons, and Joel Edgerton (The Square) is on hand as an outlaw associate. The way J is brought in and tested in this world of blood-spattered machismo is director David Michod's subject, and even if the film has a few heavy-handed moments along the way, the overall effect is tense and unsettling. J's journey comes up short compared to a contemporaneous study of another unformed youth learning the ropes of crime (Jacques Audiard's A Prophet), but its portrait of amorality thriving in a somewhat ordinary-looking urban landscape is effective. Bonus: Guy Pearce's role as a detective who tries to catch J on the course of his tragic trajectory, a rare glimpse of humanity in an otherwise chaotic zoo. --Robert Horton

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
44 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-made, depressing Australian crime drama. September 12, 2010
"Animal Kingdom," David Michod's debut feature, is undeniably well-made and compelling, but it's strictly for people who thought "The Departed" was too optimistic. Seventeen-year-old Joshua Cody (James Frecheville), known as J, never had a chance, as "Animal Kingdom" makes plain from the opening shot. Once J's mother dies of a heroin overdose, he has nowhere to go but the home of his "Grandma Smurf" (Jacki Weaver) and uncles, a violent group of career criminals that makes "White Heat" and "Bloody Mama" look like "Mary Poppins." The Codys live in a seedy section of Melbourne in which police and crooks are essentially competing mobs, sometimes cooperating but more often taking hits out on each other. It's a true jungle, just as merciless as the Serengeti and far more corrupt.

"Animal Kingdom" is essentially the story of how J is sucked inexorably into a life of crime, enhanced by ominous music and portentous slo-mo camera effects. Ben Mendelsohn--playing J's Uncle Andrew, a/k/a The Pope--is absolutely terrifying. So is Weaver as the outwardly cheery but inwardly satanic Grandma Smurf, who will sacrifice anyone and anything to preserve the family business. "Just because you don't want to do something," she remarks at one crucial point, "doesn't mean it can't be done." As for Frecheville, at the beginning he's reminiscent of Forrest Gump if Forrest had been played by the young Rupert Everett. His performance gains in power, however, as his afflictions pile up and his true nature starts to come out.

There are a few things about "Animal Kingdom" that don't fit together; for example, it's a little too convenient that upright Detective Sergeant Leckie (Guy Pearce) should be so ignorant of the corruption in his own police force. Nevertheless, "Animal Kingdom" is a persuasive crime drama and an admirable debut film for Michod. Just don't watch it when you're already depressed.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Survival of the Fittest March 1, 2011
ANIMAL KINGDOM is tough little film from Australia, well written and directed by David Michôd, and acted by a fine ensemble cast of actors. It is a frightening tale of crime and corruption, of one family of criminal sociopaths both pitted against and partnered by the police in Melbourne, Australia. Though the film wanders times, altering past and present in a manner that proves confusing to the whole, the impact in the end is stunning.

Joshua "J" Cody (James Frecheville) narrates the film and we first meet this young 17-year-old sitting beside his mother who has just died from an overdose of heroin. In a most detached way he calls his maternal grandmother Smurf (Jacki Weaver) and asks if she remembers him: his mother has been estranged from her family for years. Smurf welcomes his call and complies with his desire to move to her home. And what a home she runs! Smurf's sons are sociopathic criminals on the run from the law (but also involved with the law in the illegal sale of drugs with bad cops). The worst offender is Pope (Ben Mendelsohn) who is the brains behind the crimes the family commits: he is also on medication for his mental challenge. The other two brothers are drug-addled Craig (Sullivan Stapleton) and the strange very young Darren (Luke Ford). Pope's best friend in crime is the rather tender Baz (Joel Edgerton) with whom J can relate. J is thus thrust into the family he has not known and becomes reluctantly involved with the criminal shenanigans and killings of Smurf's boys. Smurf has a bizarre relationship with her 'gang' of sons, seemingly kind and protective but with a surprising evil side of her own.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant crime drama, best since HEAT February 26, 2011
This Aussie crime drama rates very high on my list of best crime dramas in the past 15 or 20 years. The screenplay, directing & acting were all superb, rivaling that of Heat & Goodfellas. It also has some similarities to the 80's film At Close Range with Penn & Walken, which was also brilliantly acted. This film was a directorial debut for the director, which makes it all the more impressive. This film is far superior to The Departed, which won best picture a few years back, but I'm sure it will get slighted by OSCAR because it's an Aussie film. The film keeps your attention & is very unpredictable, has many twists & turns & has a brilliant ending. Don't miss this film.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Akin to Scorcese but stands on it's own. November 22, 2011
Australia has been a rising force in the international film market. Films such as "Wolf Creek" and "The Loved Ones" prove that Australia can churn out some gritty, violent and disturbing films. "Animal Kingdom" is no exception. This movie is a powerhouse of great film making with intense performances, impeccable direction and a brilliant script. You may find yourself thinking that you've seen this story before, but you've never seen it with the same intensity and emotion.

"Animal Kingdom" is at it's heart a coming of age story in a crime family. Joshua, played by James Frecheville, is a 17 year old recently orphaned kid who's family is a mixture of drug dealers and bank robbers. Joshua's mother dies in the beginning of the film from a drug overdose and the only option he has is to go live with his grandmother. Jackie Weaver stunningly plays Janine 'Smurf' Cody, the matriarchal grandmother running everything. As Joshua gets situated in his new home he begins to find he's in a very volatile situation. One that he has to decide whether to be a part of or not. A decision that will undoubtedly change his entire life.

This film is akin to Scorcese's masterpieces "Casino", "The Departed" and "Taxi Driver". Director, David Michôd emulated these films yet certainly made "Animal Kingdom" his own. As his first feature film, Michôd made it seem easy. The incredibly taut script left nothing to be desired. As in the Scorcese films I mentioned, the script was the key ingredient to make this film such a brilliant piece of work. Some crime drama's can get away with having a back story everyone knows, yet the script is sub par. "Animal Kingdom" is not only fresh but being from Australia it's impact is that much greater to American audiences.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by Holly Randall
3.0 out of 5 stars Lot of buildup... little delivery...
While not as extreme as "7 Years in Tibet",it was a long, drawn out buildup with not much ado.
Published 1 month ago by RJVDB0
5.0 out of 5 stars ... see it twice in order to really appreciate the fine acting ---...
interesting movie --- had to see it twice in order to really appreciate the fine acting --- subtle.
Published 3 months ago by Lenore
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptionally crafted crime drama with amazing jobs by newcomer James...
Exceptionally crafted crime drama with amazing jobs by newcomer James Frecheville and as always Ben Mendelsohn!!! A must see!!!!
Published 3 months ago by Joe Bothe
3.0 out of 5 stars A depressing movie
We ordered and paid for the movier, but on watching it realized that we had seen it previously. Our remberances were that it was a real downer.
Published 4 months ago by patricia plumeri
3.0 out of 5 stars Not my bag of tea
It a very odd movie. I think this is one that most will either love or hate. Just not my type of movie.
Published 4 months ago by cardFan
3.0 out of 5 stars It's OK
I purchased this movie to see Sullivan Stapleton. While the movie didn't blow me away as the best film ever, I do think it was well acted. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Alice in Wonderland
4.0 out of 5 stars good
I’m a sucker for crime stories and this one is great in the demented family way. Joshua’s mom dies from a heroine overdose and he calls his grandmother to help take care of funeral... Read more
Published 8 months ago by ConcupusAl
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark and Gritty but Worth Watching
A dark and gritty look at the criminal life in Australia. The movie is slow paced but filled with mood and grit. I enjoyed it as I am a fan of Sullivan Stapleton. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Chris
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as wild as it should be
"Animal Kingdom" is a serviceable crime drama, but hardly in a class with its American counterparts. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Ken A. Heiman
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