The Water Man parents guide

The Water Man Parent Guide

This is the rarest of films, a PG story that won't bore parents to death.

Overall B+

In Theaters: With his mother seriously ill, young Gunner Boone heads off into the woods to find the legendary Water Man who is reputed to have the power to raise the dead.

Release date May 7, 2021

Violence B
Sexual Content A
Profanity B+
Substance Use A-

Why is The Water Man rated PG? The MPAA rated The Water Man PG for thematic content, scary images, peril and some language

Run Time: 92 minutes

Parent Movie Review

“In the town of Pine Mills, people see a tall shadowy figure emerging from a lake with fire on his chest and hope in his eyes…” This mythical being is the Water Man, and he doesn’t just carry a vague hope, he is rumored to possess the ability to raise the dead.

Desperate to save his critically ill mother (Rosario Dawson), young Gunner Boone (Lonnie Chavis) is enthralled by the legend. Joining forces with Jo (Amiah Miller), a wily, self-sufficient teenage girl, he heads off into the woods with a map, his father’s (David Oyelowo) samurai sword, and a few cans of food in a quest for the Water Man and his glowing life-giving rock. But the woods are full of unexpected dangers and a small forest fire is about to blaze into a wall of flame…

If you think some of this sounds familiar, you’d be correct. A kid trying to save a sick parent, a “resurrection stone”, a dangerous quest through the woods – none of these elements are distinctive. But the acting is excellent, and carries us through the less original parts of the tale. The cinematography is also superb, with an eye for the varied textures of the Pacific Northwest’s majestic landscapes. As an added bonus, part of the plot’s backstory is delivered in line drawn animation, as is some of Gunner’s artwork. This is a film worth looking at.

The Water Man is one of those rarest of movies, a PG story that won’t bore parents into a state of insensibility. The plot is original enough (despite its borrowed components) that it will keep kids and adults focused on the screen. The movie is devoid of sexual content and has only three profanities. However, it has some genuinely terrifying moments that could easily frighten children. There are a few jump scares in the dark woods, a very frightening encounter with a creepy figure, an avalanche of insects (which scared the heck out of me), and many moments of peril for the young protagonists. The film is rated PG, but it’s on the high end of that scale so parents will want to carefully consider their children’s susceptibility to nightmares before watching the movie together.

Thankfully, The Water Man also comes with strong positive messages about courage, love, individuality, and persistence. The film is shot through with a rich appreciation for the power of families and the need for forgiveness and second chances. Gunner is part of a warm, loving family with a nurturing mother and devoted father, albeit one who struggles to build the close bonds he craves with his son. This tender story reminds all of us of the gifts families give us - the shelter from the storm they provide; the safe place they give us for growth; and their capacity for renewal amid the challenges of life.

Directed by David Oyelowo. Starring David Oyelowo, Rosario Dawson, Lonnie Chavis, Amiah Mello. Running time: 92 minutes. Theatrical release May 7, 2021. Updated

Watch the trailer for The Water Man

The Water Man
Rating & Content Info

Why is The Water Man rated PG? The Water Man is rated PG by the MPAA for thematic content, scary images, peril and some language

Violence: An animated segment shows people drowning in a flood. Chalk animations of dead animals. Brief graphic novel segments about a murdered police officer. A boy dreams about people drowning. A parent yells at a frightened child. A girl shows a scar on her neck. A character shoplifts. Two kids fight, pushing and knocking each other over. Kids are caught in a landslide of beetles. There is reference to child abuse. Main characters are trapped in a forest fire.
Sexual Content:   None noted
Profanity:  There is one minor swear word, a term of deity, and a euphemism for a scatological curse.
Alcohol / Drug Use:  A prescription bottle of morphine is visible.


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The Water Man Parents' Guide

Why do Gunner and his dad struggle to get along? What changes their relationship? How could they have resolved their issues earlier?

What happens when Gunner meets the Water Man? How does this encounter help him accept the uncertainty around his mother’s health?

Home Video

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Illnesses and death among family members are handled sensitively in several films.

Conor struggles to come to terms with his mother’s serious illness in A Monster Calls. Then a giant tree talks to him, offering three fables and demanding one from him which must illuminate his greatest truth. As Conor thinks about his challenges, he learns to accept them.

When June’s mother becomes ill and has to be hospitalized, June loses interest in the miniature amusement park they used to build together. Then June discovers that Wonder Park is real and needs her care and attention.

After his father’s death, a young boy struggles to find and complete his automaton in Hugo.

A teenager battles cancer in the real life story Clouds.

David Oyelowo once again plays the father in another struggling family in Come Away.

The idea of “resurrection stone” features strongly in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, parts 1 and 2.