Leo Parent Guide
Funny, warm-heated, and full of empathy for kids, this family-friendly production is a win for Netflix.
Parent Movie Review
Since 1949, Leo the lizard (Adam Sandler) has been a loyal pet to the grade five class of Fort Myers Elementary School. A few decades ago, he was joined by Squirtle (Bill Burr), an elderly tortoise, and together they’ve relearned fractions and watched children get ready for middle school year after year. When he learns that his species only lives to be 75, the 74-year-old Leo realizes that he’s never done any of the things he wanted to and decides that now is the time to start living. In the process of trying to escape and fulfill his bucket list, Leo starts bonding with the current group of fifth graders and wonders if maybe his life’s purpose has been in front of him all along.
Children’s animation is a mixed bag that tends to skew towards low effort and cheap productions intended only to keep kids quiet for 90 minutes. I should know: I have to watch most of them. However, a handful of times a year an animated feature is released that is well written, capably animated, full of fun, and replete with great messages for both children and adults. I am so happy to announce that Netflix has accomplished that feat with Leo.
I feel like I haven’t laughed out loud at a film in ages, but I did today. Multiple times. There are some great visual gags, such as how the kindergarteners are portrayed, as well as some clever dialogue. This film is technically a musical, though the music isn’t used consistently throughout the runtime and isn’t terribly memorable, so I think it could have been edited out, leaving an essentially identical product. But where this production really shines is in its heart. Yes, Sandler gets in some of his usual silly bits and there are a few jokes about bodily functions, but the core of this movie is the love that Leo has for the children. Each child has their own unique challenges and all benefit from Leo’s listening ear and sage wisdom. In turn, the children learn to be better listeners for the people around them.
I think that children close to the age of the 10-year-olds on screen will get a kick out of the silly antics, but also resonate to relatable struggles during the transition from kid to tween. There is a small amount of mild profanity and adult humor in this production, which may give parents of very young children pause. Personally, I had a great time with this film, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes a hit with kids and adults alike. Much like a lizard and a tortoise, it should have a long life.Directed by Robert Marianetti, Robert Smigel, David Wachtenheim. Starring Adam Sandler, Bill Burr, Cecily Strong. Running time: 102 minutes. Theatrical release November 21, 2023. Updated November 21, 2023
Watch the trailer for Leo
Rating & Content Info
Why is Leo rated PG? Leo is rated PG by the MPAA for rude/suggestive material and some language.
Violence: A character throws throwing stars at an alligator. There are moments of mild peril and some school bullying. A grieving child weeps over her grandfather’s death. A lizard has flashbacks about being harmed by children. A lizard’s tail is severed and regrows.
Sexual Content: There is some mild innuendo. A boy says he doesn’t know where babies come from, and a turtle describes how female turtles lay eggs. A turtle takes off his shell and is seen wearing a jock strap. Characters joke about puberty.
Profanity: There are some mild insult and nine terms of deity in the script.
Alcohol / Drug Use: There is brief mention of smoking and a person being a “closet drunk”.
Page last updated November 21, 2023
Leo Parents' GuideWhat qualities does Leo have that enable him to connect with and help the students? What lessons does Leo learn as he’s imparting his wisdom to them?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
The lives of school pets have been explored, to good effect, by several authors.
Established writer Vivian Vande Velde teams up with illustrator Steve Bjorkman to create the hilarity of 8 Class Pets + 1 Squirrel 1 Dog = Chaos.
Geared directly to the same age group as Leo, The Fabled Fifth Graders of Aesop Elementary School chronicles a group of students lobbying for a class pet. In Candace Fleming’s telling, the kids request a mythical beast and get guinea pigs.
Alice Walstead uses rhyme to tell the tale of a school overrun by escaped class pets – who are led by a bearded dragon. How to Catch a Class Pet: A Funny School Adventure for Kids is illustrated by Andy Elkerton and is suitable for elementary school readers.
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Singing amphibians and a trumpet-playing alligator have adventures in the Louisiana countryside in Disney’s The Princess and the Frog.
An abducted princess has a quiet chameleon for a sidekick in Tangled.