The Cove

 
(i)

 

Gruesome, powerful, and inspiring dolphin documentary.
  • Review Date: May 28, 2010
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 92 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

This is a very inspirational and heroic movie. This band of characters employs teamwork and problem solving in order to triumph over terrible odds. They don't necessarily risk their lives, but they do risk their livelihoods as well as some jail time. (They compare themselves to a real-life Ocean's Eleven team.) They do all this to right an egregious wrong (and the movie goes into detail about why it's wrong). Parents, however, may break into a cold sweat at the thought of their own children participating in similar activities.

Positive role models

Ric O'Barry is a terrific role model, aside from the fact that he keeps getting himself arrested in the name of his cause (although this might make him all the more appealing to younger viewers). Over the course of the movie, we hear the story about how he captured and trailed dolphins for the Flipper TV show (1964-1967), enjoyed his fame for a while, and then began to regret his actions. He now devotes his life to freeing and saving dolphins. The movie even makes a plea to its audience; O'Barry is now in his late 60s and someone needs to follow in his footsteps.

Violence

Though the movie doesn't feature wall-to-wall violence, it contains life-changing moments, notably the brief but powerful imagery of dolphins being slaughtered. We mainly see the water turn red with blood, but there are images of fishermen striking blows and images of struggling dolphins. Otherwise, there is the almost-constant threat of violence, as the filmmakers attempt to get close to the killing grounds. There are aggressive face-offs, and other vaguely sinister confrontations.

Sex

Not an issue, though there are images of women swimming in bikinis.

Language

Very brief, sporadic language, including uses of "Goddammit" and "Christ."

Consumerism

The film mentions and shows pictures from Sea World several times, but in an effort to demonstrate the downside of the theme parks. The movie does not entice viewers to rush out and buy tickets.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie is the 2009 Oscar winner for Best Documentary. It contains brief, but disturbing and gruesome imagery around the slaughter of dolphins in Taiji, Japan. Though the movie contains a plethora of information about dolphins, the arc of the story focuses on the dangerous attempts to gather proof of the dolphin slaughters. The movie is informative, interesting, and inspiring, but contains shocking pictures: blood-red water, fishermen striking blows, and dolphins struggling and dying. Also, there's an almost constant tension in the film, an ever-present threat of violence. The goal of the movie is to inspire audiences that something can be done, but sensitive and younger viewers might wish to avoid it.

What's the story?

In the small fishing village of Taiji, Japan, thousands of dolphins are slaughtered every year. Some of them are captured and sold to theme parks for huge amounts of money, and poisonous dolphin meat (with its high mercury content) is passed off at fish markets, labeled as other products. Former dolphin trailer Ric O'Barry, who is famous for his work on the Flipper TV series of the 1960s, is now an activist devoted to saving and freeing the dolphins. Teamed up with a squad of experts, his job is to set up cameras and audio equipment in order to capture hard proof of the gory and disturbing slaughter. Unfortunately, the Japanese authorities are well aware of O'Barry and his agenda, and are keeping a close eye on him.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Winner of the 2009 Oscar for Best Documentary, THE COVE will probably turn away many viewers with the promise of gruesome footage of slaughtered dolphins. But it's such a powerful, informative, and inspirational movie that all of the footage somehow meshes as part of the same experience.

It's amazing how the film balances its many storylines in a compact 90 minutes. We learn about the life and career of former dolphin trainer Ric O'Barry, the efforts of the Japanese government to legally continue their practices, the intelligence and/or awareness of dolphins, the effects of mercury in dolphin meat, and many other facts and opinions. The main drive of the movie -- O'Barry and his team's efforts to set up their cameras to film proof of the dolphin slaughter -- is as suspenseful as a spy film, and the end result is a combination of elating and devastating.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the disturbing and violent images in the film. Was it necessary to show them?

  • Are Ric O'Barry's methods to save the dolphins drastic, or are they appropriate? What else could people do to help?

  • If the dolphins are smarter than humans, what types of things might they teach us?

  • What other atrocities are happening in the world in the name of greed and profit? What are some of the other ways we can stop them?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 31, 2009
DVD release date:December 8, 2009
Cast:Richard O'Barry
Director:Louie Psihoyos
Studio:Lionsgate
Genre:Documentary
Run time:92 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:disturbing content

This review of The Cove was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 14 years old Written bygobob789 July 31, 2011
 

Beneficial to Everyone

Great movie, important message. Violence is not as much of an issue as people being unaware of this violence.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 16 years old Written byJ-man58 January 30, 2013
 

Cove is a very good movie

I think that this movie is sending a very positive message to stand up for what you believe for and always try to do the right thing. This movie is a very good movie, there were a lot if nail biting parts.. I must say that there are some very cruel parts, for parents I would watch it before showing your kids there are some cruel parts. other then that it is a very good movie
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent of a 16 year old Written bykalicwe January 22, 2011
 

Not for kids younger than 14.

This film galvanized my 16 year-old's interest in conservation and humane treatment of all creatures. The violent images were horrifying, even to me, but my teenager was old enough to discuss the pros and cons of the subject with me, and come to a decision about her own position in this debate.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Great role models

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