OK for kids 14+
The Notebook + the circus; some upsetting scenes.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this romantic drama based on Sara Gruen's best-selling novel features some disturbing scenes of domestic abuse, animal cruelty, and other violence. The romance includes a few kisses and one love scene between stars Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon, but it's dimly lit and shows very little skin. Violence includes an animal being put down, another animal bloody and lethargic after a beating with a hook, a woman nearly being strangled to death, and the then-common practice of "redlighting" -- throwing circus workers off a moving train. Two "redlighted" characters are shown dead and sprawled among rocks, and the main character's dead parents are briefly shown in the morgue. With its mature themes and the central abusive relationship, this movie isn't always easy to watch, but it does encourage women to leave abusers before it's too late.
- Families can talk about the movie's messages about relationships. What are the differences between the way August treats Marlena and the way Jacob treats her? Parents, talk to teens about your own values regarding relationships.
- Which characters do you consider role models? Why?
- How is the early 20th-century circus depicted? How are circuses different now?
The good stuff
Messages: Some of the movie's positive messages include being kind to animals, empathetic to other human beings, and getting out of abusive relationships. The relationship message is particularly important, because it shows young women that no matter how much they think they "owe" their significant others, they should never stay in an unhealthy relationship.
Role models: Jacob is a positive role model. He's selfless and gentle and kind -- a complete contrast to August's cruelty and possessiveness. He shows compassion for the animals and for his fellow circus workers who don't have anyone looking out for them.
What to watch for
Violence: A circus boss is incredibly cruel and abusive to his wife, employees, and animals. In a couple of particularly upsetting scenes, August hurts an elephant so much that you see him and the elephant covered in blood. A man almost strangles his wife to death. Jacob is beaten badly -- with fists and kicks -- more than once. In one scene, Jacob comes close to killing August in his sleep with a knife. In another scene, a man is violently killed, and viewers see a close up of his face with blood dripping down his face. The practice of "redlighting" -- when the circus boss' heavies toss circus hands off a moving train, without caring whether they survive the fall or not -- is mentioned again and again. The number of workers redlighted is discussed several times; at one point, Jacob is nearly thrown off. Toward the end of the film, two characters are shown dead and bloody on the rocks, having failed to survive their redlighting. Brief scene of two dead people (the main character's parents) in a morgue.
Sex: Marlena and August embrace and kiss in front of other people. Jacob and Marlena flirt with each other, dance, and eventually make love, but the scene isn't explicit. In one scene, August forces Jacob and Marlena to dance with each other and stare into each other's eyes, as if to prove they have feelings for each other. Scenes of burlesque dancers stripping, though only bare backs are shown. A couple scenes of heavy flirting and verbal innuendo between a stripper and Jacob, as well as euphemistic references to him not being able to perform sexually due to drunkenness.
Language: Language includes a couple of "s--t"s, plus "goddamned," "hell," "damn," "balls," "coochie girls," and "ass."
Consumerism: Not an issue
Drinking, drugs and smoking: Lots of alcohol consumption -- both by adults who drink to excess and by animals, who are given liquor to soothe their nerves and usher them to sleep. In one scene, the main characters get very drunk, stumbling and passing out; Jacob wakes up hungover and laughing, dressed as a clown. Adults are also shown smoking era-accurate cigars and cigarettes.
Fan Reviews provided by
Water for Elephants review by Punk_Kanellis
Literally, probably one of the best movies I?ve ever seen. Tragic, hopeful, horrifying, and lustful. This movie shows you what it?s like to really be in love when someone is trying to separate you. It shows you the ugly side of marriage, the ugly side of the circus, and a man and woman?s relationship with an elephant. It?s such an amazing story.
You?ll find yourself crying and heartbroken. Also, I?ve never been attracted to Robert Pattinson before this, and now
wow! I kind of am.
Sidenote: The book is better.
not for animal lovers by carx15
This was a very predictable movie. Which does not always favor my review.
Reece is playing a dangerous game and Pattinson just gets sucked right in, this you see coming from miles away. As for Cristopher Waltz, the bad guy, who get his jollies beating an old packyderm, is well placed and lives up to his villanous reputation. Entertaining but like I said, quite predictable. That predictability, is just what you dont want in a flic.!!
was alright by browningsm
Water for elephants was alright; waited to see it on dvd and glad i did. christopher waltz is an excellent actor and his voice and accent are extremely unique. I'd expect to be seeing more of him in films. he does play a good bad guy. witherspoon good, not sure if she was the best for this role but she did alright at best. pattinson, good choice, so handsome, and glad to see him in movies other than twilight franchise. he was a good pick for this role. interesting story line, tugs at the heart a bit, especially with the animals. decent saturday late afternoon or sunday evening movie to watch.
Must See Movie.
This movie had it all. Set in a 30's Circus culture. The acting was great. Hal Holbrook was fantastic in his small role. I liked everything about the story line. A tear jerker ending. I am not a Reese Witherspoon fan, But she won me over this time.
Water for Elephants by turkey23
Good story. Engaging throughout. Acted well enough, though nobody is going to be nominated for an Academy Award for this one. Script stayed true to the book, my wife, who read the book, tells me. Several people in the audience clapped at the end; that's unusual and always a good sign.
Not exactly the book but GREAT by rebekahmed
Although there is missing info in the movie, like the nursing home drama and the character of Al, the movie is wonderful! The only thing you really miss out on from the book is the switching to his old age and young age. It is a great movie and just as intense as the book was!
Saw it,loved it, gotta have it!!!! Saw it,loved it, gotta have it!!!! <3