Parents' Guide to

Whale Rider

By Nell Minow, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 11+

Excellent, gorgeous drama with uplifting messages.

Movie PG-13 2003 105 minutes
Whale Rider Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 9+

Based on 14 parent reviews

age 8+

Great film!

Beautiful film. My 8 year old loved it and we can't figure out why there is the 11+ rating from the experts. The very beginning does have the death of the mother but it is not shocking and the core of the scene is on how the father and grandfather react to the death of the mother and baby. The baby is shown as swaddled and you would not know that it had died if not for the conversation around the scene. Honestly, the plight of the whales is much more livid and disturbing at the very end but not too much for most 8 year olds. I clicked on too much swearing because there was one line that went something like if you don't say this right 'your d--k will fall off'. We got the question Mommy what's a ...... That's the troubling part for kids but it is so outweighed by the masterful tale. It is a view of a culture soon forgotten and that is the worry of the people in this film. Great juxtaposition of the modern world and the old and value of traditions and the need to change them in some ways and not in others. The main lesson is of course about gender roles and forgiveness with grace. The girl Pakai is amazing on all counts. A wonderful role model for little girls. The boys who do their best are also very good role models. Excellent film.

This title has:

Great role models
Too much swearing
2 people found this helpful.
age 8+

Beautiful use of language

Ms 7 loved this book. Its a fantastic read for discussion with boys or girls about traditions that involve gender - in this case tribal leadership and the ostracism of girls in the inheritance of senior positions in the tribe and in legend itself. The language is exquisite - some of the passages will probably stretch even adults - the use of vocabulary is so rich. Highly recommended, particularly for young girls.

This title has:

Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (14):
Kids say (23):

Writer-director Niki Coro perfectly suits the style to the story. The modest buildings in the midst of the starkly beautiful setting convey the contrast between the timeless culture of the Maori and the ephemeral artifacts of the modern age. Pai's perceptiveness and quiet persistence are always evident, but when she finally speaks from her heart, standing on stage in a school production, wearing traditional garb, she is purely luminous. Whale Rider is not only genuinely lyrical, but, even harder to manage, it is lyrically genuine. A must-see for families of tweens and up.

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