Unlike last year's Earth Day release, 'Earth,' or 'March of the Penguins' or the filmmaker's previous documentary, 'Winged Migration,' 'Oceans' doesn't follow a particular story arc. It's very broad in focus, showing you a little bit about a lot of different oceanic creatures, habitats and concerns, as opposed to letting audiences concentrate on a particular aspect of the ocean. With such a vast subject, the documentary (and Brosnan's occasionally overly-ponderous narration), while beautiful and amazing, can also lose jittery kids. Preschoolers in particular may think it's snoozy in some sections and scary in others. Mature kids (say 6 and up) with an interest in science and decent attention spans, however, will delight in the spectacle that is the sea.

'Oceans'
Directors: Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud
Rated: G

Parent Concerns: Although this Disneynature documentary is rated G, there are a few scenes that might scare young children, because they involve "the circle of life," or as narrator Pierce Brosnan tells us at one point, "In the ocean, big fish eat little fish." Nature can be cruel, and the ocean is far from an exception. Birds of prey pick off just-hatched baby sea turtles one by one as they try to make it to the shore; Orcas catch sea lion cubs off-guard; two crustaceans brawl it out until one of them ends up without a limb or two. There are no lingering shots of bloody water, however, and the most disturbing part of the film is the sequence about the horrors of overfishing, which shows all of the fish inadvertently caught in a fishing net. If your kids like sitting through Nat Geo or Discovery Channel shows, they should be able to handle 'Oceans' just fine.




Moviefone Mama Says: Unlike last year's Earth Day release, 'Earth,' or 'March of the Penguins' or the filmmaker's previous documentary, 'Winged Migration,' 'Oceans' doesn't follow a particular story arc. It's very broad in focus, showing you a little bit about a lot of different oceanic creatures, habitats and concerns, as opposed to letting audiences concentrate on a particular aspect of the ocean. With such a vast subject, the documentary (and Brosnan's occasionally overly-ponderous narration), while beautiful and amazing, can also lose jittery kids. Preschoolers in particular may think it's snoozy in some sections and scary in others. Mature kids (say 6 and up) with an interest in science and decent attention spans, however, will delight in the spectacle that is the sea.

Here are three tips to extend your movie-going experience beyond the multiplex.

1. Get Involved: Anyone who sees the movie opening week will also be donating to a "save the oceans" conservation effort. Yes, this is a way to manipulate encourage you to bolster the movie's box office haul, but if you were planning to see it anyway, this is an added incentive. But why stop there, when all you've done is buy a movie ticket or four? If you're fired up about keeping oceans clean and more fish alive, you can find out how to adopt a coral reef; help rehabilitate injured sea turtles; volunteer to clean trash off the nearest seashore; or at the very least follow the three "Rs" even my pre-K daughter can remember: reduce, reuse, recycle.

2. The More You Know: Disney has teamed up with National Geographic to develop educational materials for teachers who want to incorporate some of 'Oceans' lessons into the classroom, but parents should feel free to download the activity book (look in the "for educators" tab) and go through it with your kids. My second grader and I skipped a few parts (we weren't so keen on the kelp forest bit), but we enjoyed delving deeper into the sea, learning about habitats, evolutionary adaptations and more. Since the documentary doesn't dwell too long on any one area or animal, it was a perfect (and educational!) way to take the movie experience to another level.

3. One Fish, Two Fish: Some of the most wondrous scenes in the documentary introduce us to all manner of interesting ocean creatures. My son and I kept a list of our favorites, and then looked them up on our computer at home. I encourage your family to do the same. Here are just a few of the fascinating fish we favored: the blanket octopus that looks like a silk scarf; the enchanting sea dragon that stays in the same patch of Australian water its entire life; and narwhals, aka the "unicorns of the sea," that look like something out of J.K. Rowling's 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.'


Three to See: More Earth-Friendly Movies
Kids: 'Happy Feet' is more than just a kiddie musical about tap-dancing penguins; there's a real green-friendly message thrown in too.

Tweens: 'Hoot' is an underrated little tween drama about kids who save an endangered owl habitat from being torn down and turned into suburban sprawl.

Teens: 'Avatar' is an environmentalist film wrapped up in a big, expensive, blue 3-D ribbon. If only, like the Na'vi, we could commune with the earth.

For All: 'Wall-E' is an adorable robot, but he's proof of what can go horribly wrong if we don't stop over-consuming and then throwing out too much of our big and large stuff.

Also in theaters:
'How to Train Your Dragon'
'Diary of a Wimpy Kid'
'Alice in Wonderland'