Animated features tend to fall into two camps: kid-friendly movies about kids/kidlike animals, or Sausage Party. Director Claude Barras’ My Life as a Zucchini is neither. Dark but not gothy, sweet but not cloying, it’s the story of a boy (Zucchini) who ends up in an orphanage after accidentally killing his abusive alcoholic mother. There, he befriends a bunch of kids who come from similarly tragic backgrounds – the girl who witnessed her parents’ murder-suicide, the girl whose mother was deported while she was at school, and so on. It’s all very nuanced. The bully has enough of a backstory that we can’t hate him, and the orphanage isn’t nearly as grim as they tend to be in literature.
The Providence Children’s Film Festival, which brought the film in advance of its official release, recommends the movie for people age 13 and older. The boy orphans talk a lot about how sex works.