Box art for Whale Rider

Whale Rider

  • Rated PG13

children & family, drama

A small Maori village faces a crisis when the heir to the leadership of the Ngati Konohi dies at birth and is survived only by his twin sister, Pai.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

ON for kids age 11
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Positive messages
3 out of 5
0 out of 5
0 out of 5

Excellent to watch and discuss as a family.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that this movie has some tense family confrontations. The death of a mother and baby in childbirth is very sad. A character is injured, but ultimately recovers. There is brief strong language. Characters drink and smoke and there is a brief drug reference. The movie presents a minority culture with great dignity and respect, and the theme of equality is exceptionally well handled.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about talk about the traditions of their own cultures.

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 19
    see all Whale Rider reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: A thoughtful, vivid spiritual coming-of-age story that transcends its particular cultural context.

- Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, Friday, June 20, 2003

Fresh: A story that J.K. Rowling fans young and old will savor.

- Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Friday, June 27, 2003

Fresh: There is magic here, enough to make Whale Rider worthy of the audience-choice awards it has earned at film festivals worldwide.

- Connie Ogle, Miami Herald, Friday, June 27, 2003

Audience Reviews

5 stars

A really touching film, Keisha Castle-Hughes should have won the Oscar in what was one of the greatest performances ever! The speech scene is just awesome cinema!

- SirPant, Tuesday, September 22, 2009

4 stars

Heard good things about this film and every word of it was true. Great storyline which gives the viewer some kind of insight into the culture and tradition of the group of Maori people in a coastal village in New Zealand.. A fantastic performance from Keisha Castle-Hughes.. This film totally held me from beginning to end and is very much about the storyline, one which is unique, full of emotion and not by any means a soft girly film, it?s a film of true spirit and loyalty and tradition.

- 76Majikat, Monday, May 4, 2009

3 stars

Quite touching story, set in the ever-beautiful New Zealand, about a young girl and her determined quest to furfil a special destiny. Great acting by Keisha Castle-Hughes, whose performance here was surely worthy of the Oscar-nomination she later received. Overall, however, this wasn't really my cup of tea, as I was expecting something a bit more engaging and a little less draggy. It's not that it was bad in any way, it's just more of a movie made for the New Zealanders themselves, who may better relate to the Maori traditions upon which the story here is based.

- CloudStrife84, Monday, July 7, 2008