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The Cove Review Critics


Dave White Profile

Flipper died for your entertainment. Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 5.0

    out of 100

    Universal acclaim
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    There are many documentaries angry about the human destruction of the planetary peace. This is one of the very best -- a certain Oscar nominee.

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  • 100

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter

    Shot rivetingly by cinematographer Brooke Aitken, who combines digital, night-vision and thermal-imaging formats into a formidable package, the footage is edited tautly by Geoffrey Richman and enhanced measurably by J. Ralph's suspenseful score.

    Read Full Review

  • 70

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    The film makes its case graphically, to say the least, yet muddies its bloody waters with an excess of artifice and a dearth of facts.

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  • 83

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    The Cove is the rare documentary specifically designed as a thriller.

    Read Full Review

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 14+

Gruesome, powerful, and inspiring dolphin documentary.

What 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.

  • 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?

The good stuff
  • message true4

    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.

  • rolemodels true4

    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.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    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 false0

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

  • language false2

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

  • consumerism false0

    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.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false0

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Not an issue