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"WHALE RIDER"
(2003) (Keisha Castle-Hughes, Rawiri Paratene) (PG-13)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
*Moderate Minor Heavy Mild Minor
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Minor None Minor None Moderate
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Minor Mild Heavy Moderate Mild


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A young New Zealand girl challenges tradition and her rigid grandfather by trying to prove that she's as capable as any boy of becoming the leader of her people.
PLOT:
Among the Ngati Konohi tribe of New Zealand, it is believed that the spirit of Paikea, their founding father who arrived by whale, will deliver to them a male infant who will become their leader. Their tradition bound chief, Koro (RAWIRI PARATENE), certainly believes that, but he's devastated when the wife and newborn male child of his son, Porourangi (CLIFF CURTIS), die during childbirth, leaving only a female newborn.

Porourangi doesn't want her and leaves, and Koro has similar feelings, but his more warmhearted wife Nanny Flowers (VICKY HAUGHTON) decides that they must keep and raise the girl. Many years later, Pai (KEISHA CASTLE-HUGHES) is a 12-year-old tomboy who's just as capable as any of the local boys.

Yet, when Koro decides he must find a new leader among the children, he forsakes Pai, much to her dismay, and doesn't allow her to participate in any of the ritualized training and education. Nevertheless, and with the help of her grandmother and more laidback uncle Rawiri (GRANT ROA), Pai sets out to prove that she's a worthy descendent of the whale rider and rightful heir to becoming her tribe's leader.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Unless they're fans of someone in the cast, the source novel, films set in New Zealand or whales, it doesn't seem too likely.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For brief language and a momentary drug reference.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • KEISHA CASTLE-HUGHES plays a 12-year-old New Zealand girl who must contend with having broken tradition by being born female and thus disappointing her rigid grandfather. She repeatedly tries to prove her worth and gain his love and belief in her.
  • RAWIRI PARATENE plays her rigid grandfather who can't accept her as their leader and thus is often mean and demeaning to her (although he obviously loves her). He briefly uses some profanity.
  • VICKY HAUGHTON plays Pai's more caring grandmother.
  • CLIFF CURTIS plays the girl's father who essentially abandoned her when she turned out not to be a boy and only briefly visits her. He briefly uses some profanity.
  • GRANT ROA plays Pai's more laidback uncle who takes her under his wing to help her prove her grandfather wrong. It's implied that he uses drugs, but we never see such use.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Here's a brief summary of the content found in this drama that's been rated PG-13. Profanity consists of at least 1 "s" word and a few slang terms for male genitalia, while some colorful phrases are also uttered. Some brief and non-explicit, sexually related dialogue is present and we hear that a man's girlfriend is pregnant.

    Several characters smoke, including a boy, and some men hold what appear to be bottles of beer. It appears that one character has used drugs (we see what looks like related paraphernalia, but no use). Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes, including a rigid grandfather who's mean and demeaning to his granddaughter just because she was born a girl rather than a boy. That leads to some tense family material (that also includes some early family deaths).

    A few scenes might be unsettling for a few viewers, including possible peril for a young girl (twice underwater) as well as the sight of beached and apparently dying whales. Some brief physical contact between people (slapping, kicking and sparring with martial arts type poles) is also present.

    If you're still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who may be interested in seeing it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.



    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • We see what looks like a large bottle of beer on a pool table.
  • Rawiri appears to have some drug paraphernalia (possibly a pipe) lying on his chest.
  • Rawiri's friends hold beer bottles while on a boat.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We hear a farting sound and many kids break up in laughter.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Koro wants nothing to do with Pai, later recants that, but then turns mean once again toward her (in various scenes and in different ways) since he believes her birth cursed the family and their tribe. He also repeatedly treats her differently since she's a girl rather than a boy.
  • Some kids briefly make fun of Pai over an embarrassing moment.
  • Koro kicks one of his students on the butt. In turn, the boy hits Koro across the back with a pole.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Pai disappears for a bit too long while underwater, slightly worrying those still on the surface (she's okay).
  • Those who don't like seeing animals in danger might not like a scene featuring some beached whales (one dies, but the others eventually leave and are okay).
  • For a bit, we're not sure if Pai has drowned after riding a whale out into the ocean, going under water and then floating back as if dead. We later see her in a coma, but she comes out of it and is okay.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Martial arts type poles: Briefly used in some sparring.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Your d*cks will drop off," "Stupid old pucker," "Bloody" (adjective), "Pissed off," "Shut up," "Snotty-nosed" and "Bastards."
  • Various characters have tattoos.
  • Some kids may be enticed to imitate sparring with martial arts type poles.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A brief bit of suspenseful music plays in the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 1 "s" word, 3 slang terms for male genitals ("d*ck") and 1 damn are used.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Nancy and another woman smoke. After Pai comments that they shouldn't be doing that since it might affect their child-bearing properties, one of the women jokes that they'd have to be smoking from a funny place to have such an effect.
  • We hear that Porourangi's girlfriend is pregnant.
  • Koro informs some boys that the repercussions of something will be that "your d*cks will fall off."
  • SMOKING
  • Nancy and another woman smoke. After Pai comments that they shouldn't be doing that since it might affect their child-bearing properties, one of the women jokes that they'd have to be smoking from a funny place to have such an effect.
  • A school kid smokes, while Rawiri's girlfriend puts a cigarette into her mouth, but doesn't light it.
  • Several miscellaneous characters smoke in several scenes.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Porourangi must deal with the simultaneous death of his wife and newborn son. Other family members also react to this news, including Koro who wants nothing to do with Pai (later, we see that he's changed his mind, but then emotionally withdraws and is quite mean to her).
  • Years later, we see that Koro and Nanny have raised Pai and that her father only occasionally visits (but she's happy to see him).
  • Koro isn't happy with Porourangi and there are some tense moments between them, and he then tells Porourangi to take Pai with him since she's of no use to him (she overhears that and is sad). Later, Koro makes Pai move out of the house and in with someone else.
  • Nanny becomes upset with Koro regarding the way he treats Pai.
  • A boy is upset that his father will be gone (apparently again) for several days.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Traditions.
  • The way Koro treats Pai differently since she's a girl rather than a boy (prompting her to ask, "What's wrong with me?").
  • Mothers and/or babies who die in childbirth.
  • Whales that beach themselves.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Koro slaps a boy on the back of the head for making fun of Pai.
  • Koro kicks one of his students on the butt. In turn, the boy hits Koro across the back with a pole.
  • Koro slams something down in anger at the dinner table, causing it to break.
  • A boy tries to hit Pai with a martial arts type stick while mad, but she fends off his attack, blocks his strikes and then disarms him.



  • Reviewed May 30, 2003 / Posted June 20, 2003

    Other new reviews available this week include:

    [Cesar Chavez] [Noah] [Sabotage]

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