Animal Crackers Parent Guide
Top shelf voice talent brings the magic to this fantastical circus story.
Parent Movie Review
How would you react if you inherited a circus? That’s exactly what’s happened to Owen (John Krasinski) who has not only inherited his uncle’s circus, but also a box full of magical animal crackers that can turn any human into an animal. Owen’s also inherited a big challenge – another uncle, Horatio P. Huntington (Ian McKellan), who will stop at nothing to take the circus for himself. Now Owen and his circus family have to work together to keep the magic safe and the circus afloat.
After originally debuting in 2017 and spending a few years tied up in legal battles, Animal Crackers is finally available and has been picked up by Netflix for global distribution. The most notable thing about this movie is its all-star cast. For a very small production company, Blue Dream Studios really went all out on the big names. Danny DeVito, Ian McKellen, Patrick Warburton, Wallace Shawn, Gilbert Gottfried, and a surprising Sylvester Stallone all give amazing performances, rounding out John Krasinski and Emily Blunt’s leads. I honestly can’t say enough about how well done the voice work is. It really makes Animal Crackers shine.
Aside from the performances, the story is generally strong. The writing finds a balance between reality and magic that keeps the story grounded while also leaning into its fantastical elements. The themes are positive and easily digestible for younger audiences, namely the importance of family, generosity, and love, as well as the perils of greed and selfishness. There is a subplot about dog biscuits that could have been scrapped, because it doesn’t really add to any of the character development and slows down the pacing in the first act. The movie does feel a little long and cutting that subplot would have fixed that problem.
I do have a few minor quibbles. One being that the film includes two musical numbers done by McKellen’s character, which feel out of place in a non-musical. If you’re going to do musical numbers, you need to either commit to doing a musical, or don’t do them at all. (Not that I’m complaining about Sir Ian McKellen getting to sing about dastardly deeds of course!) Another quibble is that there is supposed to be a twist near the ending, but the set up is so obvious that I had guessed it about ten minutes in. It might be more surprising for a younger audience though.
Overall, I really enjoyed Animal Crackers, and so did my little one. After it was done, I asked him what his favorite part was and he said, “I liked all of it!” So that’s a recommendation from an adult and a three-year-old, a rare honor in this house.Directed by Tony Bancroft, Scott Christian Sava, Jaime Maestro. Starring Emily Blunt, Danny DeVito, John Krasinski, Ian McKellen. Running time: 105 minutes. Theatrical release July 24, 2020. Updated July 25, 2020
Watch the trailer for Animal Crackers
Rating & Content Info
Violence: Moderate amounts of cartoon violence. A dog bites a man on the bottom, ripping his pants. Characters and animals fight each other in a slap stick manner. A man is hit by a car, this is played as humorous. Some dangerous driving stunts are done. References to broken bones. Animals growl and roar, which can be frightening at times.
Sexual Content: Multiple adult characters kiss. A woman pulls objects out of her cleavage. Women who work for the circus wear tight, somewhat revealing clothing, some with copious amounts of cleavage.
Profanity: One mild expletive is used. Insults such as “nincompoop”, “buffoon”, and “nitwit” are used often.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None
Page last updated July 25, 2020
Animal Crackers Parents' Guide
What was Owen willing to sacrifice to keep his family together? Is family always just the people you share genes with, or can it be something more?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
For a story of enchanted circuses, turn to Cassie Beasley’s Circus Mirandus, the tale of a boy’s quest to prove that the magical circus is real.A man turns his artistic creations into real performers in Sandy’s Circus by Tanya Lee Stone and Boris Kulikov.
If your little one dreams of running a circus, look no further than Dr. Seuss’s If I Ran the Circus. This classic book with its bright illustrations and infectious rhymes has delighted generations of children. If they still can’t get enough, Peter Spier’s Circus will delight them with its incredibly illustrated pages.
Younger readers will enjoy Circus by Lois Ehlert with her trademark bright, simple design. And kids of all ages will laugh at Ian Falconer’s Olivia Saves the Circus.
Related home video titles:
Wonder Park is an animated film about an imaginary amusement park June creates with her mother. When her mother winds up in hospital, June discovers that the park is real…
The classic kids’ movie about a circus is Dumbo, which is available in both the original animated and newer live action versions. Older viewers who want a circus musical can check out The Greatest Showman, a film inspired by the life of P.T. Barnum.
A young girl wants to run away from the family circus in Mirrormask.
If your little one can’t get enough of animals, Brother Bear should hit the mark.