The Reef

Movie review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
The Reef Movie Poster Image
Animated ocean tale has lots of scuffles and bullying.
  • G
  • 2007
  • 77 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 9 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Meant to entertain rather than educate.

Positive Messages

The Reef offers positive messages about community, integrity, doing the right thing, and standing up for yourself or others.

Violence & Scariness

The Reef begins with a fish whose parents are captured by net and never seen again. It features sustained bullying throughout in the form of a tiger shark who terrorizes and intimidates the ocean community, insults others, beats them up, and demands the affections of a girl fish to a creepy extent. A major plot point involves the training of a fish to fight another fish. Fish are involved in numerous scuffles, which involve a great deal of fin-slapping and shoving. There are quite a few scary-looking fish with razor-sharp teeth. In one scene, a shark chases a smaller fish at length, with the perspective being through a mouth full of sharp teeth chomping after him.

Sexy Stuff

A male shark demands the affections of a girl shark, who promises herself to him for him to stop bullying another fish. In a few scenes, fish kiss on the cheek.


Consistent use of insulting language, such as "dumb," "idiot," "stupid," and more.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Reef's premise involves a fish witnessing his parents being captured by a net and never being seen again, which could frighten very young kids. There are a number of scary-looking fish with sharp teeth in the film. It also involves sustained bullying from a creepy tiger shark who demands the affections of a female fish and abuses everyone. Though the message is ultimately a positive one about sticking up for yourself, there are numerous scuffles, insults, and a major plot point that involves fighting to solve a problem.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byThe Reef Reviewer March 21, 2019

The Best Animated Classic of This Century!?!

The reef movie is the greatest motion picture I’ve beheld since Garfield: A tail of two kitties. Never before have a seen such crisp animation and intriguing pl... Continue reading
Adult Written byOcean_Enjoyer December 19, 2019

A movie worth rewatching many times

I’ve seen this movie 35 times.
Kid, 11 years old February 28, 2015


I saw this when I was 5 and I was really board. See Finding Nemo instead.
Kid, 12 years old May 16, 2021

I’d really love to chug jug with you

According to all known laws of aviation, there is no way a bee should be able to fly.

What's the story?

When Pi (Freddie Prinze Jr.) is separated from his parents in the increasingly polluted Boston seaside, he makes his way to the Caribbean to a protected wildlife sanctuary called the Reef. But instead of a peaceful environment, he finds a new family and a community terrorized by Troy (Donal Logue) the tiger shark, a nasty-tempered bully set on intimidating everyone, especially anyone who takes a shine to his would-be girlfriend Cordelia (Evan Rachel Wood). When Troy senses Pi and Cordelia have hit it off, he ups the stakes, and now Pi must learn to stand up to the bully, even if it means risking everything.

Is it any good?

THE REEF is a bit rough around the edges for very young kids. A fish watches his parents being swept up by a net, never to return, and immediately finds a mean-spirited bully on what should be safe ground. The high number of tumbles, some flatulence jokes, and the Karate Kid-style plot -- which has Pi training to fight Troy for the big finish -- and the very creepy intimidation Troy lays on Cordelia all feel a bit too volatile for the film's cover appearance, designed to lure the same crowd that loves The Little Mermaid. There are some nice ideas about substitute communities and rallying to solve a problem, but it's unfortunate the answer is found in more violence.

Kids who like ocean adventures will be drawn to this, but parents may want to be ready to discuss bullies, orphans, and the mean streets underwater and possibly clarify what girls should do if boys ever demand their affections.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about dealing with bullies. Is violence ever justified? What else could Pi have done to try to solve the problems in the Reef? Would it have worked?

  • Have you ever had to stand up for yourself? How did you do it? What happened?

  • How does The Reef compare to other movies set underwater? How is it different?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love animals

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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