My Friend Bernard Movie Poster Image

My Friend Bernard



Adventure about overcoming fears is loaded with peril.
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 70 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

Intended to entertain, not educate.

Positive messages

Imparts lessons about the importance of overcoming one's fears by facing them head on -- not a message that will work for everyone.

Positive role models
Not applicable
Violence & scariness

Lots of fearful imagery to illustrate the importance of overcoming fears, such as scary shadows or loud noises. It also employs a slapstick, cartoon-y peril throughout -- the characters are sent flailing down a snowy mountain side; a patch of ice breaks loose and a boy falls down it, rolling into a giant snowball that ping-pongs around the landscape; a giant monster lunges at a boy and his penguin friends. There are lots of near-misses -- dodging falling stalactites and even polar bear farts and scary height challenges -- but everyone escapes unscathed. 

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that My Friend Bernard is meant to help a child overcome fears by facing them, but in order to do that, it sets up a young boy of indeterminate age, likely a toddler, in a nonstop saturation of peril that he must face -- noises, shadows, heights, monsters, and lots and lots of falling. Some challenges are more absurd than others -- fighting a dragon, anyone? -- and it's balanced with lots of humor (some of which ventures into potty humor territory), but for some kids, the positive message about facing what frightens you could easily be lost amid all the brouhaha. 

What's the story?

My Friend Bernard is an animated adventure about Sam, a little boy whose fears are on overdrive no matter their source -- from noises, to scary shadows, to new faces. But when he receives a magical necklace with transportive qualities, he visits a magical ice world and makes a new friend in a polar bear named Bernard who, along with a couple of penguins, teach him about courage and facing his fears.

Is it any good?


My Friend Bernard certainly means well in its quest to teach youngsters that their deepest fears are better faced than avoided. But it does that by jam-packing 70 minutes with nonstop frights like a series of scary dominos to knock down one by one. In Sam's world, the only way out is through. And in an effort to keep the pace going, My Friend Bernard overdoes the action with a trial-by-fire ethos.

It doesn't help that the adventure storyline feels needlessly convoluted, that the polar bear is confusingly presented as both friend and foe, and that the attempt to make every stop on this epic rescue-thon a teachable moment wears thin. Kids may enjoy the silly penguin characters and laugh at bear fart jokes, but parents may find this a tough one to get through. More significantly, parents may find this an oversaturated, lesson-packed attempt at diffusing fear for younger kids, who likely prefer to space their frights out over longer than 70 minutes.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how Sam overcame his fears. What do you think was the most helpful thing for Sam to experience to learn to be less afraid? What tricks do you use to stop being afraid of something?

  • Sam and his friends learn a lot about sharing. Some characters got awfully upset when their things were used without their permission. Have you ever been upset when you had to share? How did you deal with it?

Movie details

DVD/Streaming release date:October 30, 2012
Director:Aaron Lim
Studio:Phase 4 Films
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Wild animals
Run time:70 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:mild rude humor

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Teen, 14 years old Written byBernardssuxazzzz October 22, 2016


Firstly, the animation is terrible. Second there is no personality to the characters. They're just kind of there. The plot doesn't make any sense, its never clear what they're trying to do or why. There's a... Dog? In a teacup for some reason? Also Bernard is a terrible influence on children . There's a penguin named Eva who is "vain" but she's actually not and actually pretty nice. The entire time Bernard is trying to get her to fall in love with him even though she's CLEARLY just not into him. And let it be said that this gets very forceful including him tying her up in his house to "keep her safe" and the narrator just encourages it... What is this teaching about consent? "My FRIEND Bernard?' They suddenly act like they're friends with him at random parts of the movie but most of the time the rest of the characters are running from him in terror and he nearly kills them. Multiple times. The narrator is really annoying. Sam is terrifying and his laugh is nightmare material. Lloyd acts like much more friend than Bernard and hes not even on the cover! Theres also a demonic dog which is too evil to actually be a dog. The main kid (Sam) had a creepy doll that came to life at the beginning which had no relevance to the rest of the story. He travelled around using some kind of magic necklace that was never explained. Also he was like 2 and his parents didn't seem to care that he was wandering around town randomly and going to some weird ice land and then a desert. They were mentioned once and all it was was "awww oh no his parents still aren't awake" from the narrator at the very beginning. Also I think Santa made made an appearanve but I don't know why? It has really really bad humor. If you could even call if humor. The limit of the humor is like two really weird fart jokes throughout the movie. This movie should have been called: This is the worst movie movie in existence do not watch under any circumstances it'll teach your kids that kidnapping girls is justified and just because a girl wants to look pretty she's automatically "vain" HOWEVER this was pretty fun to make fun of with some friends so if you wanna do that then that's perfect.
Educator and Parent of a 3 and 6 year old Written byKate H. August 6, 2016

Too much

Every 3 minutes there is a scene change and constant action. My 3 year old said it was scary and parts of it were intense. Sometimes Bernard was nice and sometimes he was angry. My 6 year old could tell me what the overall point of the story is, but there are many other better options.
Educator and Parent Written bydamariso May 13, 2016
What other families should know
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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