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Animal Kingdom (2010)

Ben Mendelsohn , Joel Edgerton , David Michôd  |  R |  DVD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 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 (74 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003Y5H4R0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,605 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Animal Kingdom" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

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

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.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
43 of 50 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
Continuing my journey of late with Australian films (see my post on The Black Balloon), I just watched Animal Kingdom (2010) on Blu-ray this past week. Set and filmed in Melbourne, Australia, Animal Kingdom is a family crime drama along the lines of Heat (1995), The Town (2010), The Departed (2007), Point Break (1991), and Donnie Brasco (1999). But it's a unique take on the genre from an Australian point of view. It even brings a bit of The Sopranos into the mix. First time writer/director David Michôd clearly brings his great love of crime dramas to bear with this story. While not as flashy and engaging as the classic movies I reference above, Animal Kingdom still brings a lot of interesting character study to the table. I give the film 3 stars out of 5.

Newcomer James Frecheville plays 'J', a 17-year old teenager who is forced to live with his extended family due to the death of his mother from a drug overdose. Turns out his family is filled with criminals led by his sweet but sinister matriarchal grandmother Janine, played with interesting finesse by Aussie actress Jacki Weaver. J moves in with his grandmother and her 3 sons, J's uncles, played by Ben Mendelsohn, Luke Ford, and Sullivan Stapleton, who waste no time bringing J into the family business. Also part of this mix is Joel Edgerton, as a fellow bank robber and friend of Mendelsohn's character "Pope". Without giving too much of the story away, J goes through some growing pains as he deals with his new life in this different kind of family. As one of the detectives after Pope and the rest of his family, Guy Pierce's "Leckie" wants to save J from a life of crime under the control of his grandmother. But what does J want?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
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 1 month 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 1 month 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 2 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 2 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 3 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 6 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 9 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 10 months ago by Ken A. Heiman
3.0 out of 5 stars It was okay
I bought this movie because of who the director is. He is directing another movie coming out in 2014. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Gracie
4.0 out of 5 stars Poor Kid!
For a film described as a "thriller," ANIMAL KINGDOM is fairly slow-moving, with little in the way of violent confrontation, chase scenes, and other intensities. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Doug Park
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