Namu: My Best Friend

Movie review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
Namu: My Best Friend Movie Poster Image
1960s whale adventure has some peril but teaches tolerance.
  • PG
  • 2005
  • 89 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Kids will learn many facts about killer whales.

Positive Messages

Namu: My Best Friend espouses positive messages supporting curiosity about nature, appreciation for animals, tolerance for things we don't understand, with an overall pro-preservation, pro-science stance.



Positive Role Models & Representations

The majority of the characters are admirably open-minded, curious, judgment-withholding, and good-hearted. Although some of the characters are small minded and petty, many change their ways when presented with solid evidence.

Violence & Scariness

The film contains scenes of mild peril. In an opening scene, a whale is shown eating other sea life and blood is shown. A whale is shown dying, but without any blood or gore. In a few scenes, there is tension between adult characters: In one case, a man takes a shotgun from another man whose aim was to use it; in another, a man grabs a man by the lapels and intimidates him. A man is bumped and chased around in a rowboat by a whale. A kid feeds a whale a piece of fish with hooks stuffed in it, causing the whale great distress.

Sexy Stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The film features a few instances of casual cigarette smoking typical of the era.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Namu: My Best Friend is a family film that's meant to debunk myths about killer whales. The film contains several scenes of mild peril. In an opening scene, a whale is shown eating other sea life and blood is shown. A whale is shown dying, but without any blood or gore. There's talk of a child whose father is rumored to have drowned in a sea accident. Also, casual, everyday smoking is shown without consequence, and a wide range of characters are portrayed as gun-toting in this outdoorsy Washington state setting.

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What's the story?

When marine biologist Hank Donner (Robert Lansing) decides to isolate a killer whale in a cove so he can study it, local townspeople are concerned about the dangers. With the help of friendly widow Kate (Lee Meriwether) and her daughter, can Donner convince them there's more to meets the eye, or will the killer whale retain his reputation as a cold-blooded predator?

Is it any good?

Kids who are interested in marine life will likely enjoy this exploration of communicating with the killer whale, and parents can get behind the positive pro-science, pro-nature message. 

With its sense of formality and idealism, casual smoking and almost Twilight Zone-era feel of the narration, this late-'60s film on the intelligence and wonder of the killer whale feels of its time. It also portrays the issue of animal rights vs. people's as a fairly simplistic one. But that said, it's beautifully shot, wholesome entertainment that demonstrates some important messages about tolerance and basing one's decisions on concrete facts rather than irrational, particularly ignorant, fears.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how important it is to show tolerance for things we might fear or simply not understand. How can you learn more about something you don't understand?

  • Does the movie seem dated to you, or do you think its messages are still relevant?

  • Go online or to the library and learn more about killer whales and their habits.

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love animals

Themes & Topics

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