Puff: Wonders of the Reef

Movie review by
Sabrina McFarland, Common Sense Media
Puff: Wonders of the Reef Movie Poster Image
A pufferfish learns to survive in eco-friendly docu.
  • NR
  • 2021
  • 62 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Stands out for positive messages.

Educational Value

Kids can watch rare footage of microscopic life inside a coral reef. The documentary may also inspire interest in marine life, as well as career choices that involve the sea.

Positive Messages

Play a part in ocean conservation. Drive and determination can overcome life's obstacles.

Positive Role Models

Puff uses so-called "fish instincts" to guide himself away from predators. He learns how to protect himself by watching the behavior of other fish. 

Diverse Representations
Violence & Scariness

References and scenes include large fish bullying or eating smaller ones, sea creatures' venomous attacks, and species camouflaging themselves to deceive unsuspecting prey. There's a discussion about coral reefs suffering, starving, and dying due to the sea's warming temperatures.

Sexy Stuff

Discussions include reproductive systems involving eggs, sperm, mass spawnings, and fish finding mates.


Language includes the words "monstrous," "poisonous," and "toxic" to describe several coral reef fish. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Puff: Wonders of the Reef is a documentary narrated by actor Rose Byrne about the odyssey of a pufferfish. Images and references include large fish eating smaller ones, sea creatures' venomous attacks, and species camouflaging themselves to deceive prey. Language includes the words "monstrous," "poisonous," and "toxic" to describe characteristics of a number of ocean species. There are also discussions about marine life reproductive systems involving eggs, sperm, and mass spawnings, as well as the topic of coral reefs dying due to warming water temperatures. The documentary's positive messages include the importance of ocean conservation, the drive and determination to overcome life's obstacles, and the integral role people and marine life share in the Earth's ecosystem.

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What's the story?

PUFF: WONDERS OF THE REEF details a pufferfish's coming-of-age journey and survival in Australia's Great Barrier Reef region. The documentary also looks at the ecological evolution of coral reefs, which serve as marine life metropolises, and the need for their preservation.

Is it any good?

Cinematographer Pete West's colorful coral reefs and their inhabitants make a breathtaking splash in this spectacular documentary. "Life on the reef is dependent on thousands of creatures working together each with a vital role to play," notes Rose Byrne in Puff: Wonders of the Reef. The narrator also points out the possible dangers there. Coral resident Puff, an orphan pufferfish en route to a forever home, also relies on reefs as "out of sight and off the menu" hideaways from prey. Adds Byrne, "Unless we change the way we do things in our world, Puff's world will cease to exist."

 As educational cinema at its best, Puff: Wonders of the Reef presents the prospect for engaging conversations with kids about ocean conservation and the seldom-seen world of coral reefs as cities of the sea.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the pufferfish overcomes obstacles. How do animals like the pufferfish show perseverance in their lives? How does that compare to the ways that humans persevere?

  • In what ways are coral reefs important to marine life and people? Why should they be protected and preserved?

  • What types of species live in and around coral reefs? Why do some sea creatures prey on others? Where could you go to learn more?

Movie details

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