Animal Kingdom

June 3rd, 2010


Animal Kingdom

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Still of Sullivan Stapleton and Jacki Weaver in Animal KingdomStill of Ben Mendelsohn, Sullivan Stapleton and Luke Ford in Animal KingdomStill of Ben Mendelsohn in Animal KingdomStill of Joel Edgerton in Animal KingdomStill of Jacki Weaver, Dan Wyllie and James Frecheville in Animal KingdomStill of Joel Edgerton and Jacki Weaver in Animal Kingdom

Tells the story of seventeen year-old J (Josh) as he navigates his survival amongst an explosive criminal family and the detective who thinks he can save him.

Release Year: 2010

Rating: 7.4/10 (19,502 voted)

Critic's Score: 83/100

Director: David Michôd

Stars: James Frecheville, Guy Pearce, Joel Edgerton

Despite being no saint herself, Julia Cody has shielded her seventeen year old son, Joshua "J" Cody, from her Melbourne-based criminal relatives who they have not seen in years. After Julia dies in front of J's eyes from a self-inflicted heroin overdose, J, who is slightly detached from life, feels he has no choice but to contact his maternal grandmother, Janine "Smurf" Cody, the family matriarch, for a place to live. Smurf rules the family with a borderline incestuous love over her three sons, the quietly menacing Andrew "Pope" Cody, the hyperactive Craig Cody, and the barely of age Darren Cody. Pope and his best friend, Barry "Baz" Brown, are armed robbers, with Darren their up and coming apprentice, while Craig is a mid level drug dealer. Melbourne's Armed Robbery Squad is after specifically Pope, who is hiding out. But when the standoff between the Codys and the Armed Robbery Squad is brought up a notch...

James Frecheville - Joshua 'J' Cody
Bryce Lindemann - Paramedic #1
Paul Smits - Paramedic #2
Jacki Weaver - Janine 'Smurf' Cody
Joel Edgerton - Barry 'Baz' Brown
Luke Ford - Darren Cody
Sullivan Stapleton - Craig Cody
Mirrah Foulkes - Catherine Brown
Anthony Ahern - Armed Robbery Detective
Justin Rosniak - Detective Randall Roache
Michael Vice - Hood #1
Chris Weir - Hood #2
Laura Wheelwright - Nicky Henry
Sarah Nguyen - Waitress
Lucia Cai - Cashier

Taglines: A crime story.


Official Website: Official Facebook | Official site [Australia] |

Release Date: 3 June 2010

Filming Locations: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Box Office Details

Budget: AUD 5,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $61,968 (USA) (15 August 2010) (7 Screens)

Gross: $6,793,982 (Worldwide) (17 March 2011)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

This movie holds the record for the most number of nominations garnered by a feature film at the Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards, the number being eighteen.

Continuity: When Baz and the Armed Robbery Squad member are conversing, where Baz is sitting in his car, the car window goes from partially open to fully open.

[after the death of yet another one of her children]
Janine Cody: [crying] I'm having trouble trying to find my positive spin. I'm usually very good at it. Usually it's right there, and I can just have it. But I'm having trouble finding it now.

User Review

Riveting story of crime and police vigilantism

Rating: 10/10

The backdrop to this movie is Melbourne, Australia in the mid-1980's, which (according to the director) had one of the highest per-capita murder rates in the world. At the time, there were several deaths in Melbourne in which wanted and suspected criminals were killed by the police under suspicious circumstances. These killings in turn supposedly ignited a slew of retaliatory murders perpetrated on police officers (cf. the "Walsh Street" police shootings).

This is a movie about a young man (Josh or "J," played by James Frecheville) whose extended family are all criminals. Using the character of seventeen-year-old J as a sort of catalyst, the movie explores a variety of crime-related issues, from the effects of growing up in a world where criminal activity is the norm, to the escalation of crime that is a natural consequence of vigilantism (especially when the vigilantes are police).

The characters are all played very well, with exceptionally good performances given by Ben Mendelsohn, Jackie Weaver, Sullivan Stapleton and young James Frecheville in his debut as J.

While "Animal Kingdom" starts slowly (perhaps -too- slowly for some), it continually builds in intensity throughout the entire movie, culminating with an ending that is both shocking and yet inevitable. In particular, the movie has a very compelling scene played perfectly by Mendelsohn, with an awesome supporting role played by Luke Ford - I'm sure this scene repulsed many in the audience (it certainly repulsed me). At first, I feared that the scene was added by the director merely as a gratuitous exploitation of the audience's emotions. However, as the movie progresses, the scene's outcome becomes an integral part of the plot development, and is therefore necessary for the completion of the main story.

This movie will not be for everybody - the subject matter and the honest way in which the movie portrays it made the movie somewhat taxing at times to sit through. However, I think those willing to consider the necessity of telling the story of "Animal Kingdom" will find the movie entertaining and thought-provoking - I certainly did.


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