Back to the Outback Parent Guide
This animated film isn't brilliant but it's got something for everyone which makes it a decent choice for family movie night.
Parent Movie Review
In the seldom visited reptile house of an Australian zoo lives a group of animals that are marketed to visitors as ugly and dangerous. Tired of being seen as monsters, Maddie the snake (Isla Fisher), Zoe the thorny devil lizard (Miranda Tapsell), Frank the spider (Guy Pearce), and Nigel the scorpion (Angus Imrie) decide to break out of their cages and find a new home in the Outback. Perhaps out in the wild their uniqueness will be appreciated.
I’m a sucker for a “found family” story. You mean a group of misfits all found one another and now love each other unconditionally? Excuse me while I ball up in a puddle of tears. That is exactly what Back to the Outback is: a story of a group of misunderstood creatures who form a little family and learn that the character on the inside counts; not the fangs or scales on the outside. The messages are key here. Viewers learn to look past outer appearance and appreciate the uniqueness of every person (or creature) and not to fear others just because they look different. The themes are obvious but not preachy, which is a good balance for children’s media. Or, if you’re my son, you learn “to not catch venomous creatures”. We’re still working on understanding metaphors.
Overall, this is a decent movie. It’s not amazing but it’s also not bad. I enjoyed my viewing and so did my five-year-old. There are some good jokes and exciting action scenes, and the story is well paced. The voice actors all do a fine job and it’s fun to try to pick out some of the famous Australian cameos. The Australian wilderness is gorgeously animated and makes for a unique backdrop to the action.
As far as negative content is concerned there’s a little bit of swearing and some innuendo about mating season, though I imagine many of those jokes will go over children’s heads. The level of violence is pretty standard for the genre, but very sensitive children might be frightened by animals showing their fangs and claws. For a family movie night, this could be an enjoyable option. Kids will enjoy the bright colors, likeable characters, and positive messages, while parents will enjoy the humor and Australia-centric references. Having something for everyone is key to success for a family film, so it looks like this band of outcasts will find a cozy niche in Netflix’s viewing algorithms.Directed by Harry Cripps, Clare Knight. Starring Jacki Weaver, Guy Pearce, Isla Fisher, Eric Bana. Running time: 95 minutes. Theatrical release December 10, 2021. Updated December 9, 2021
Watch the trailer for Back to the Outback
Back to the Outback
Rating & Content Info
Why is Back to the Outback rated PG? Back to the Outback is rated PG by the MPAA for rude/suggestive material and action
Violence: There is slapstick violence including falling, punching, hitting, and kicking. Human characters are seen wielding knives, tranquilizer guns, cricket bats, and a bazooka. Humans threaten the lives of animals.
Sexual Content: There is an ongoing joke about a spider’s mating season and some innuendo around that, including a mating dance. At one point said spider says, “I’ve never been so aroused”. Two toads kiss.
Profanity: The script features a single mild expletive and three terms of deity plus mild insults like “stupid” and “freak”.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A brief shot shows the inside of a bar where adults are seen drinking.
Page last updated December 9, 2021
Back to the Outback Parents' Guide
How does Pretty Boy change over the course of the adventure? What does he learn about himself and the “ugly” creatures?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
Australia has a rich and distinctive wildlife. Young readers who want to learn more can read (and enjoy the illustrations) in Animals of Australia by Jo Parker and Saxton Moore. Bronwyn Bancroft’s ABC of Australian Animals gives an aboriginal perspective on the continent’s critters as does her other picture book, An Australian 1 2 3 of Animals. Those irresistibly cute little bears take centre stage in John Butler’s Can You Cuddle Like a Koala? Youngsters can discover wombats in Jackie French and Bruce Whatley’s Diary of a Wombat. Kids can learn about kangaroos in Heart in the Pocket by Laurence Bourguignon and Valerie d’Heur. Kanga’s cousin, the wallaby, is the protagonist of There’s an Ouch in my Pouch by Jeanne Willis and Garry Parsons.
Older kids who want more detail can check out The Australian Animal Atlas by Leonard Cronin and Marion Westmacott. Readers who want to learn about the most dangerous animals on the continent can get a copy of Dangerous Australian Animals by Struan K Sutherland. James Patterson brings antipodean adventure to tween readers in Middle School Escape to Australia.
Related home video titles:
An entire animated franchise is based on the exploits of a group of animals who break out of the New York City Zoo with a plan to return to their African home. The series begins with Madagascar, and moves on to Madagascar Escape 2 Africa and Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted. The series also spins off to Penguins of Madagascar.
A young girl helps a yeti escape an animal collector and return to his home in the Himalayas in Abominable.
Australia features in another animated kids’ movie, specifically Disney’s Rescuers Down Under. In this story, the rodent rescuers go to the southern continent to save a youngster who’s been kidnapped by a poacher.
Less lethal are the wild horses that feature in The Man from Snowy River. Set in Australia’s mountain country, this family-friendly film follows a young man as he attempts to save his family farm, corral some wild horses, and win the girl. It’s beautiful locations and distinctive soundtrack set this movie apart.