Parents' Guide to

Penguin Highway

By Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 11+

Magic, mystery, some mature content in lovely anime.

Movie NR 2019 118 minutes
Penguin Highway Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 7 parent reviews

age 11+
age 10+

Aight this is a good film, ignore the oversensitive reviews.

I'm nearly thirteen and I watched this with my mature 10 year old friend a couple months ago. Look, if the main character was a couple years older, his breast obsession would be justified. Its typical of guys to be like that. My friend knew this and she got kind of awkward at certain points in the movie, as did I. The flirtatious woman that the 10 year old protagonist had a crush on was not human, but a mystical being of creation incarnated as a 20-something-year-old dentist who had no idea of her power, which was causing penguins and Japanese monsters to appear randomly around her town. The movie is entertaining and emphasizes the importance of intelligence and knowledge, and for a science fanatic like me, it was appreciable. I hope they make a sequel, because there were some unanswered questions and the movie ended with the main character deciding to spend his life contemplating the mysterious miracle of creation that he had witnessed.

This title has:

Too much sex

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (7):
Kids say (7):

Ethereal and lovely, this movie seems for all the world like a Studio Ghibili creation, with its precocious kids, mysteries connected with the natural world, and leisurely plotting. The action in Penguin Highway might be a little too leisurely for some young viewers, in fact, and some kids may get bored watching Aoyama and his friends slowly traipsing through the same patch of forest repeatedly -- or playing real-time games of chess. And some of the content is on the mature side for the youngest viewers: Aoyama gives several soliloquies about breasts and his great fascination with them, and at one point he convinces the class bully that he has a tooth infection that will force the dentist to pull all his teeth painfully and might wind up killing him. If sensitive younger viewers don't start crying when they see a close-up of a toothy mouth growing brown mushrooms, a scene with a group of weeping young children mourning around a casket may well do it.

Nonetheless, those who are patient and mature enough to appreciate this gorgeous, dreamy film will be enchanted by visuals of sun-dappled fields dotted with adorable penguins and will be taken in by Aoyama's curiously adult determination to solve the twin mysteries of the misplaced penguins and the lady who seems connected to them. Aoyama is a bit full of himself -- "I am smart, and I study very hard; I'm sure I'll be someone great in the future," he tells viewers in the film's opening -- but he's sincere and hardworking, too, endlessly taking notes on the penguin situation and stopping frequently to consider the lessons that his dad has given him on problem-solving. In the end, the penguins have more to do with magic than science, and this movie does, too -- it has something truly special for anime lovers who've aged out of Studio Ghibli's sweeter fare, and it's a gorgeous choice for whole-family watching with tweens and teens.

Movie Details

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