Zucchini (voice of Erick Abbate) is a nine-year-old boy who is suddenly orphaned. A friendly policeman called Raymond (Nick Offerman) takes Zucchini to an orphanage run by Madame Papineau (Susanne Blakeslee).
Rosy (Ellen Page), one of the workers at the orphanage, introduces Zucchini to his new companions – Simon (Romy Beckman), Ahmed (Barry Mitchel), Jujube (Elliot Sanchez), Alice (Clara Young) and Beatrice (Olivia Bucknor). At first the children laugh at Zucchini, particularly for his name – which is what his mother called him – but they soon become good friends.
All of the children are at the orphanage for different but tragic reasons. Simon is the oldest and can be a bit of a bully, but he turns out to be kind hearted. He’s at the orphanage because his parents were both drug addicts. A new girl called Camille (Ness Krell) arrives, and Zucchini immediately takes a liking to her. Camille saw her father shoot her mother dead and then commit suicide. At one time, all of the children visit a ski field where they have a lot of fun skiing and throwing snowballs at each other.
Raymond continues to visit Zucchini and often takes him and Camille on various outings. Raymond becomes increasingly fond of the two children and decides to adopt them. It’s hard for Zucchini to decide whether to go with Raymond or stay with his friends.
Orphans; dysfunctional families; children separated from their parents
My Life as a Zucchini has some violence. For example:
- Zucchini’s mother shouts at the television set and throws cans of beer at it.
- Zucchini believes he might have accidentally killed his mother when she comes up to his attic bedroom in a temper, threatening to give him a spanking. Zucchini shuts the door hard.
- In the classroom Simon pulls a chair out from beneath Zucchini.
- Simon shoves Alice out of the way so he can sit next to Zucchini.
- Simon steals Zucchini’s precious kite, and Zucchini attacks him.
- Ahmed drops water bombs on Raymond whenever he visits.
- There is some rough play on the snowfield. Simon crashes into a snowman, and the children throw snowballs at each other.
- Aunt Ida (Camille’s aunt) says she’ll kick Camille’s friend.
- Aunt Ida takes Camille away by force.
My Life as a Zucchini has some sexual references. For example:
- Simon implies that boys need to be the ‘boss’ of girls.
- Jujube asks about the ‘thing’ that happens between boys and girls. Simon says he knows because he has seen a lot of videos. First, the boy wiggles, then the girl wiggles and gets all sweaty. Jujube asks if ‘your willy explodes’? Simon says that you’re exhausted afterwards. He says that girls just agree and say ‘oui oui oui’.
- Rosy and Mr Paul, the teacher, kiss. The boys say that if they were in bed, Rosy would sweat a lot and Mr Paul’s willy would explode.
- Zucchini kisses Camille on the cheek.
- Rosy becomes pregnant. The children feel her tummy and one of the boys says it is because of Mr Paul’s willy.
- Aunt Ida (Camille’s aunt) walks up a staircase. The boys hiding beneath can see her knickers.
- Zucchini and Camille kiss.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
My Life as a Zucchini shows some use of substances. For example:
- Zucchini’s mother drinks cans of beer.
- Simon’s parents are drug addicts.
Nudity and sexual activity
My Life as a Zucchini has some coarse language, including ‘arse’ and ‘fart’. It also has some name-calling, including ‘Shut up big trap’, ‘moron’, ‘freak’ and ‘fatso’.
Ideas to discuss with your children
My Life as a Zucchini is a French-Swiss stop-motion animated movie (with subtitles) that deals with very traumatic childhood situations in a gentle and uplifting way. The orphaned children find themselves in a caring facility where they’re well looked after and form strong bonds with each other.
There are positive outcomes and messages in the movie, but some of the content isn’t suitable for children under 10 years. We also recommend parental guidance for children aged up to 13 years.
The main messages from this movie are that we all need love and friendship and that family doesn’t have to be biological.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include empathy, kindness, friendship and redemption.
This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues like the following:
- Some of the children come from difficult backgrounds. How does this affect their behaviour?
- Why does Simon behave as a bully? He seems to feel the need to prove himself, although he turns out to be caring and kind.
- The boys discuss sex quite a lot. You might be able to use this as an opportunity to raise the topic with your children.