Penguin Bloom

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Not suitable under 8; parental guidance to 12 (themes and language)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Penguin Bloom
  • a review of Penguin Bloom completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 25 January 2021.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not suitable due to themes and language.
Children aged 8–12 Parental guidance recommended due to themes and language.
Children over the age of 12 Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Penguin Bloom
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and coarse language
Length: 95 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

After a crippling accident in Thailand, Sam Bloom (Naomi Watts) mourns the life she lost and the person she used to be. Her husband Cam (Andrew Lincoln) and sons Noah (Grifffin Murray-Johnston), Reuben (Felix Cameron) and Oli (Abe Clifford-Barr) try to help as much as they can but it doesn’t seem to be enough. Sam is angry and hurting and shuts herself away from the world and, to some extent, from her family. When Noah rescues a baby magpie, the bird – later called Penguin – worms his way into their hearts. Left alone in the house, Penguin and Sam begin to develop a special bond. As Penguin finally manages to fly, he inspires Sam to try something new and she finds fulfilment in learning to kayak. Sam comes to recognise that although things are different, she is still the same person she always was and great things are yet to come.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Loss of identity; Grief; Family tragedy; Loss of a pet; Personal injury; Coming to terms with a new reality.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie, including:

  • Sam smashes a wall full of photos showcasing the life she once had.
  • Penguin is brutally attacked by other magpies. Bloody beaks are shown as they repeatedly stab at him.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Young viewers are also likely to be frightened by the scenes mentioned below.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Penguin is attacked by a couple of other magpies. The children are screaming as they realise what is happening, Cam races to the garden while the birds continue to pin Penguin down and stab him with their beaks. One beak is covered in blood. All the birds, including Penguin, fly off as soon as Cam reaches the garden but despite a lengthy search Penguin cannot be found. The children are distraught and wonder if he is dead. Eventually, days later, Penguin returns. The brutality of the attack and the emotional reactions of the family are likely to upset many children.
  • Noah has repeated flashbacks to the moment when his mum fell through a rotten fence off a rooftop in Thailand. Initially there is a horrible sound of breaking, followed by a scream, a thud and then the screams of Sam’s family as they realise what happened. Little by little the event unfolds and the entire process is shown: the fall; Sam lying, broken, on the ground; her painful moans going into the ambulance; along with her physical injuries and scarring. Children in this age group are likely to be upset or unsettled by these images and scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • Sam has a dream in which she is drowning in her wheelchair. It is pulling her deeper and deeper into the water, she struggles to breathe and wakes with a start to see her wheelchair in the corner of the room, dripping wet. The scene is likely more disturbing than scary, especially when Sam notes that she was glad to be drowning, indicating that death was preferable to the life she was living.

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing further of concern.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • A jar of Vegemite is visible on the kitchen counter on a couple of occasions.

Sexual references

  • None noted.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity in this movie, including:

  • Cam helps undress Sam for the shower and helps her go to the toilet. Her bare back and bottom are shown but her bottom is blurred out. Noah watches this from a distance and appears upset about the scars on his mother’s back.
  • Sam is shown after her shower as Cam helps her dress while she lies on the bed. She is wearing a shirt and underwear and you can see the outline of the catheter through her panties.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Sam’s mum drinks a glass of wine as she waits for her family to arrive.
  • Drinks appear to be served with a special lunch.
  • Sam’s sister talks about having drinks.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • The term, “shit”, is used on occasion.
  • Sam repeatedly yells at Penguin to, “shut up!”.
  • Handicapped people are referred to as ‘spastic’ by Sam’s mum.

In a nutshell

Penguin Bloom is a heart-warming drama based on the compelling, true story of the Bloom family. The film features a stellar cast and outstanding performances and contains many pertinent messages for this current time in human history. Best suited to older children and adults and all those who appreciate the lessons that can be learned from the triumphs of those who have overcome incredible odds.

The main messages from this movie are that anyone’s life can be changed in an instant, that there are times when we will be scared or angry, grieving or in pain, believing that we lack the strength to get through it but (even in these moments) we are stronger than we think and more loved than we can ever imagine.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Love
  • Forgiveness
  • Persistence
  • Encouragement
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Courage.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children the importance of communication between family members, not hiding our feelings or blaming ourselves for things that are completely beyond our control.