Back to the Outback Review
Netflix has a new family film out now! Back to the Outback is here to take viewers on the journey of a lifetime. Ditching their digs at the zoo, an unlikely team of animals band together to go to the outback and find their families. Lots of laughs, action and Australians - Back to the Outback is rated PG but is it OK for younger children? I share my thoughts on the PG rating, the peril, the language, and the specific nod to a famous Australian in a no-spoilers review.
Disclaimer: I was granted early access to Back to the Outback for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Back to The Outback Review
Tired of being locked in a reptile house where humans gawk at them like they’re monsters, a ragtag group of Australia’s deadliest creatures plot a daring escape from their zoo to the Outback, a place where they’ll fit in without being judged for their scales and fangs.
Leading the group is Maddie (Isla Fisher), a poisonous snake with a heart of gold, who bands together with a self-assured Thorny Devil lizard Zoe (Miranda Tapsell), a lovelorn hairy spider Frank (Guy Pearce), and a sensitive scorpion Nigel (Angus Imrie). But when their nemesis — Pretty Boy (Tim Minchin), a cute but obnoxious koala — unexpectedly joins their escape, Maddie and the gang have no choice but to take him with them.
So begins a hair-raising and hilarious road trip across Australia, as they are pursued by a zookeeper Chaz (Eric Bana) and his adventure-seeking mini-me (Diesel La Torraca).
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Back to the Outback | No-Spoilers, Parent Review
After realizing the zoo keeper she and her friends trusted was using them for his own gain and to purposely scare audience members during his daily shows, poisonous snake Maddie decides to break-free from the zoo and go back to her home in the outback.
Her co-stars in the zoo show all decide to break-free with her and in their messy escape they end up taking zoo darling, Pretty Boy (a koala) with them. They go on a long journey, helped by animal, and human friends they make along the way.
The plot is easy to follow. Back to the Outback follows the classic animated adventure formula; friends (and foes turned friends) discover the true meaning of family while they are totally out of their element and escaping danger at almost every turn.
What I appreciated about this film is that multiple characters experience growth as they look within themselves and figure out the persona they were trying to convey wasn't really them. We see this happen to an animal and a human in the film.
Back to the Outback tries hard to hammer the lesson of "ugly" can be beautiful and the importance of accepting oneself for who you are, and to accept your family/friends as they are.
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There are multiple chase scenes in Back to the Outback.
At one point viewers are shown what the animals see as they are walking along busy city streets, and the animals are quite terrified; this viewpoint could be scary for smaller children.
During one of the chase scenes, humans are chasing the animals and in being afraid of the animals they are trying to harm them; swatting at them, using every day objects to possibly hit them.
Throughout the movie the zoo keeper is tailing them and trying to capture the animals.
There are chase scenes by foot and by vehicle.
The Nod to Steve Irwin
You didn't think a movie based in Australia about dangerous animals would skip on referencing Steve Irwin, did you?
While they do not mention him by name, it is revealed that our main zoo keeper looked up to a very brave and boisterous animal trainer who was on TV and who had an Australian accent and blonde hair. So, draw your own conclusions there, I guess.
Some mild language like the terms, "jerk", "suck", "losers" and then a less mild term, "damn".
The phrase: "they're gonna kill us" is said and the phrase: "my blooming onions" is used in reference to a man's private area.
The PG Rating
Back to the Outback is rated PG for rude suggestive material, and action.
I agree with this rating. There is definitely some cartoon action in the film by way of chase scenes, dangerous escapes and misfortunes; jumping from buses, falling down cliffs - all cartoon action, no one is seriously injured.
Some of the humor in Back to the Outback is suggestive, bordering on rude. One of our main characters is longing for a mate and jokes are made at his expense throughout the film and another questionable scene involves some lovesick toads.
Later on in the film we do see someone drink urine, unbeknownst to them.
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My Overall Thoughts
There were moments when both my husband and I laughed out loud during this film. Some jokes and gags my kids understood and laughed at too and others, they didn't quite get.
What I probably appreciated the most in the film were the visuals. Our main characters are all very vibrantly colored (aside from the naturally grey kola) and the visuals of Australia both city scenes and land scenes were very rich in color. This film really captures the beauty of the outback.
The message of Back to the Outback however, gets a little muddled. It's like, I knew what they were trying to say but they said it in such a clunky way!
Being yourself, loving who you are and that things we perceive about ourselves as ugly are beautiful, are great lessons to instill onto children but something about the delivery in Back to the Outback felt a little, backward.
The term "ugly" is used A LOT in this film and while it is used in ways to try and teach a lesson, the lesson is not you're not ugly, its even ugly can be beautiful. Do you see the difference? Back to the Outback just missed the mark a bit on the lesson teaching.
Back to the Outback age recommendation: 6+
There is a lot of action and some scenes were a bit too intense for my younger children. They laughed and overall I know they enjoyed the film but the suspense and the peril kind of got to them this time around.
Back to the Outback features vibrant colors, constant laughs and the important lesson of being true to yourself and learning that family is less about where you come from and more about the people around you who love and care for you.
Stream Back to the Outback on Netflix now!
Download and Print Back to the Outback activity sheets from Netflix Family on Pinterest!
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