Life of Pi Parent Guide
While intense peril, the killing of animals and life-threatening moments for Pi are too scary for young viewers, Ang Lee's direction make this a remarkable oceanic adventure for most teens and adults.
Parent Movie Review
Think of Life of Pi as Bollywood’s version of Tom Hanks’ Cast Away. But in this story, “Wilson” weighs 450 pounds and bites.
As a child, Pi Patel (Suraj Sharma) lives in a zoo. His father (Adil Hussain) runs the facility in Pondicherry, India until political unrest pushes him and his wife (Tabu) to emigrate to Canada with their two sons and crates full of exotic animals. Midway across the ocean, the Japanese cargo ship they are traveling on hits stormy waters and capsizes, drowning everyone but Pi, an injured zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and a 450-pound Bengal tiger. They all end up on the same 26-foot lifeboat.
Before the adventure begins, we know Pi survives. He is the one recounting the extraordinary events to a visiting writer (Rafe Spall). What we don’t know is how Pi does it and which, if any of the animals will make it. Chances don’t look good for the zebra. It doesn’t take a degree in animal husbandry to guess the injured animal will be the first course on the boat’s limited menu offerings. The orangutan and hyena go next in a couple of quick and relatively bloodless attacks. Then 16-year-old Pi and the tiger are all that remain.
Acting newcomer Suraj Sharma carries the weight of this movie with a natural aplomb, moving from terrified orphan to the savvy captain of his tiny vessel. For him, it’s more than a physical and emotional transformation; it is the spiritual recognition of God’s hand in his life. How else does he explain 227 days on a floating dinner plate with a hungry omnivore?
Despite the frequent references to religion, the spiritual journey may not occur to audience members, who like Pi’s father, would rather put their confidence in reason and science. In the end, viewers, like the Japanese officials investigating the ship’s sinking, will chose to believe what they want to. But that doesn’t negate the powerful messages this film contains, including the uncertainty of good-byes, a precocious solution to bullying and the positive power of adversity in propelling us forward.
While intense peril, the killing of animals and life-threatening moments for Pi are too scary for young viewers, Ang Lee’s direction of Yann Martel’s 2001 novel make this a remarkable oceanic adventure for most teens and adults. Brilliant visual and 3D effects, seafaring life forms and hunger-induced hallucinations contrast with the ever-present thirst for survival. If the boy’s dire circumstances don’t grab the attention of older audiences, the starving tiger will.Directed by Ang Lee. Starring Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Tobey Maguire, Adil Hussain. Running time: 127 minutes. Theatrical release November 20, 2012. Updated July 17, 2017
Life of Pi
Rating & Content Info
Why is Life of Pi rated PG? Life of Pi is rated PG by the MPAA for emotional thematic content throughout, and some scary action sequences and peril.
Violence: The film contains frequent moments of intense peril for both human and animal characters. Numerous characters are washed overboard or drowned during a ship’s sinking. Animals are attacked, killed and eaten. (Though some body parts are briefly shown, little blood or action is seen.) A child is bullied at school. A small boy tries to feed meat to a tiger. A goat is later tied up, attacked and killed as a lesson to the boy. A boy talks about killings and the murder of a man.
Sexual Content: A young teen couple falls in love. A boy urinates on part of the boat to establish his “territory”.
Language: Students repeatedly taunt another child using a crude urination term as a derogatory form of the boy’s name.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A zookeeper uses tranquilizers to lessen the stress of sea travel on animals.
Page last updated July 17, 2017
More parents' guide for Life of Pi after the break...
Life of Pi Parents' Guide
Which version of the story do you believe? Why do you think it is the more likely version of Pi’s experience? Pi asks the visiting writer why his story should have to mean anything. Do you think this story is supposed to have meaning? If so, what do you think it is?
Why is Pi drawn to religion? How does he hope to find meaning in life? How does Pi’s girlfriend and the other young dancers use dance to express their love of God? Why does Pi’s father consider religion to be darkness?
What does the Patel’s family experience with the cook on the ship reveal about their standing in society in India? What cultural and societal adjustments do immigrants have to make when they movie to a new country?
What things does Pi’s father teach him about animals? How does that knowledge help him deal with the tiger?
The most recent home video release of Life of Pi movie is March 12, 2013. Here are some details…
Home Video Notes: Life of Pi
Release Date: 12 March 2013
Life of Pi releases to home video in two packages: 2-Disc (BD/Ultraviolet/DVD & DC Combo) or 3-Disc (BD3D/BD/Ultraviolet/DVD & DC). Both versions offer the following bonus features:
Life of Pi: 2-Disc and 3-Disc:
- Blu-ray copy of the film
- Documentary: A Remarkable Vision (19:35 min)
- Documentary: A Filmmaker’s Epic Journey (63:29 min)
- Documentary: Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright ( 8:35min)
- Stills: Gallery: Art by Joanna Bush, Haan Lee, Dawn Masi and Alexis Rockman
Disc 2: DVD & Digital Copy (Film only)
Life of Pi: 3-Disc package also includes:
- Blu-ray 3D copy of the film
- 3D/2D Deleted Scenes: Anandi’s Second Dance, Time to Grow Up, Happy Birthday, Did I Say Something Wrong? and Darkness
- 3D/2D VFX Progressions: Tsimstum Sinking and The Wave Tank