Going into watching Animal Kingdom, I knew there would be some similarities between it and The Town. I saw The Town, written and directed by Ben Affleck, with my sister Carla and brother-in-law Jack and they saw Animal Kingdom when it came out on DVD. Carla compared the Australian drama to Affleck’s American bank-robber tale so I was interested to see how so when I watched Animal Kingdom this weekend. Although it had been some time since I had seen The Town, I did notice a tie between the family dynamic in each of the two pictures.
In The Town, the “family” isn’t all related by blood, but the relationship is similar to a brotherhood and that of the characters in Animal Kingdom.
Both “families” have a tie to crime they can’t escape, even if they want to, and there is a leader everyone tends to be a bit scared of.
The title of Animal Kingdom is synonymous with the relationship between the members of the Cody family in the sense that they need to survive on their own as much as they need to survive together.
What I can say about the plot, without spoiling the movie, is J’s mom dies and at age 17 he is forced into the care of his grandma, Janine “Smurf” Cody.
She has three sons, Darren, Craig and Andrew, nicknamed “Pope.” J’s mom shielded him from this side of their family, but when she died they took him into their home and the criminal lifestyle they see as normal.
In Animal Kingdom the life of crime is balanced on screen with the emotion and aftermath of the Cody’s actions. There is just enough of how they orchestrate their crimes to get a taste of who is bad and who appears willing to do anything to remain loyal to their family, even if they know it’s not right.
“Smurf” Cody is seen as the matriarch, but as the family starts to unravel she doesn’t always know what to do or, as she says, how to find a bright side to their problems.
As J begins to understand the family dynamic he’s been sheltered from and police become increasingly involved, he needs to decide whether he needs to be protected from his own family or if he can overcome their control, primarily Uncle Pope.
There, J is similar to Ben Affleck’s character, Doug MacRay, in The Town. They are faced with survival or family loyalty and in the end both films center on the weight of those decisions.
I wouldn’t say you’d appreciate Animal Kingdom or The Town more if you see them both and see The Town first like I did, but having that comparison did help me understand the purpose of the stories: Survival of the fittest.