A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Kids will learn about the octopus and may be inspired to learn more.
We have much to learn from the natural world.
Positive Role Models
A troubled filmmaker recharges his soul in the waters of his South African youth. As a resourceful octopus literally reaches out to him, he develops compassion. He displays patience and consistency, which persuades the creature that he's not a threat. He learns from her resilience how to heal his own life.
Violence & Scariness
Predators constantly threaten the octopus, but Foster doesn't interfere lest he upset the delicate balance of the natural ecosystem. Sharks and other predators eat fish, crabs, other prey. Dramatic chases take place under the sea in the kelp forest. A beloved creature goes through a full life cycle, which may upset sensitive viewers. An octopus loses an arm.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Two octopi mate and produce thousands of eggs.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that My Octopus Teacher is a nature documentary about a man looking to regain his passion for life. Retreating from life's problems, filmmaker Craig Foster tries to recharge by returning to the stormy South African shore of his youth, where he dives into the local kelp forest and meets a resourceful and friendly octopus. He spends nearly a year visiting her daily, and the relationship affects him deeply. For kids who love animals, the depiction of a relationship between a human and a wild creature could be thrilling. Creatures of the deep eat each other and flee from predators. An octopus loses an arm. A beloved creature goes through a full life cycle, which may upset sensitive viewers. Language includes "hell." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
My Octopus Teacher is an enthralling and moving record of a man in pain and retreat who seemingly finds his humanity by spending time with a charming and intelligent invertebrate. In the chilly South African Atlantic Ocean, weaving himself through kelp with only a mask, flippers, snorkel, and camera, he reports that he starts to care about others. The photography is spectacular, and the images he and directors Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed capture are extraordinary and revealing of a world most of us know nothing about.
The life cycle of his octopus friend takes us on a roller coaster of emotions: her moment of triumph as a mother provides the movie's melancholy end. This deeply felt conclusion underscores the movie's one missing element. Foster has no hesitation to expose the private life of his invertebrate friend, but he never explains the nature of the personal troubles that made him seemingly abandon friends and family and renounce life among humans for immersion in nature. If he really became a psychically healthier man because of his relationship with the octopus, it would have been great to know what about his previous life drove him to try to be a better man. Kevin Smuts' score is a perfect auditory match for the stunning visual beauty of the deep.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.