Parents' Guide to

The Whale

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Touching nature docu gets too emotional for littlest kids.

Movie G 2011 89 minutes
The Whale Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 6+

Based on 1 parent review

age 6+

Wonderful Documentary

My kids (ages 5 and 8) and I found this documentary randomly on Netflix one day. The film is very well done and my son (8) was able to follow most of the film easily. What I love most about the film is that it raises many questions and therefore an abundance of discussion topics. I am also a classroom teacher (grades 3/4) and plan to use this with my students as a springboard to opinion writing and a possible ocean or animal study. Well worth the time to watch...

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Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (1):
Kids say: Not yet rated

Produced and narrated by Ryan Reynolds, who financed the documentary with now-ex-wife Scarlett Johansson, The Whale is at heart a truly remarkable story. Unlike Dolphin Tale, in which humans actively work to save a dolphin with an amputated tail fin, the real-life fish and wildlife experts in British Columbia decide that the best thing they can do to Luna is to ignore him because he's not meant to be around people. But the authorities can't curtail Luna's extraordinary ability to connect with people, and soon his very survival becomes a socio-political tug of war between the government and the First Nations, whose chief died the very day that Luna first showed up on Nootka Sound. It's touching to watch everyone from government workers to local fisherman and community members form bonds with their seabound friend.

The movie's second half ambles a bit, and it could easily have been winnowed down to a tighter length. But just when you think the suspense of what will happen to Luna is resolved, it becomes an issue again. (Spoiler alert!) When Luna's unexpected (and in some ways unbearable) ending comes to pass, it's handled so anti-climatically that it's difficult to process. The rest of the story becomes a blur of anecdotes about the special killer whale who sought human relationships when his own kind was nowhere to be found ... but by then you and your family may be a bundle of tears.

Movie Details

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