Netflix’s uplifting film ‘Penguin Bloom’ is filled with lessons about life

February 20, 2021

“Penguin Bloom” (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

Sam Bloom was a smiling, energetic mom of three in 2013, living the so-called “good life.” She had reached her childhood goal of becoming a nurse. Her husband was successful in his profession. They were traveling the world.

Then tragedy struck while on vacation.

Bloom was posing for a photograph at a scenic spot in Thailand when a rail composed of rotted wood collapsed, plummeting her 20 feet to the concrete below and breaking her back. Immediately, she was paralyzed from the chest down.

Formerly full of life, she was now angry, depressed and confined to a wheelchair. Unable to care for her family as she wanted, she often contemplated the “what ifs” of life — and wished she were dead.

But then a rescued bird entered her life — specifically, an injured magpie chick named “Penguin.”

The magpie was on a similar path as Bloom. Sam couldn’t walk. Penguin couldn’t fly. Both needed love, compassion and patience.

By caring for the magpie — and watching it recover — Sam regained her will to live.

The new Netflix film “Penguin Bloom” (PG-13) tells the true story of Sam’s inspiring road to recovery, as she relearned how to canoe and eventually represented her country, Australia, in the paracanoeing world championships. Around the time she learned to canoe, Penguin learned to fly.

It’s one of the more inspiring films of the year.

Naomi Watts stars as Bloom. The film’s themes of courage, resilience and a strong family bond, Watts said, can encourage moviegoers.

“Hopefully, it’s something that we can all tap into, going on the journey with this family,” Watts told me.

“Penguin Bloom” has no explicit faith elements, but it’s not hard to see God’s hand throughout the plot. It teaches loving more, sacrificing more and making each day count. It also urges a focus on what we still have instead of what we’ve lost.

“I consider myself the luckiest man alive,” her husband tells her. “Because for a night, I sat thinking I’d never see you again. But I did. I do, every day.”

The film also is mostly family-friendly, with only minor language (five notable coarse words). ClearPlay offers a filter.

Also worth watching this month:


  • “The Black Church” (PBS) — A two-part, four-hour series about the 400-year history of the black church in America, featuring interviews with a wide range of individuals, from BeBe Winans to Oprah Winfrey. Henry Gates Jr. (“Reconstruction”) is the host. It debuts Feb. 16/17 but also will be available at
  • “Blown Away: Season 2” (Netflix) — Skilled glassblowers create mind-blowing artwork in a reality competition unlike anything else on television. Rated TV-14.
  • “Vindication” (Pureflix) — Detective Gary Travis (Todd Terry) solves crimes in this unique, 10-episode faith-centric series, which focuses not on the “who done it” but on the wrongly accused. Season 1 began streaming recently on (Season 2 currently is in production.)
  • “Safety” (Disney Plus) — A college football player puts his promising future on the line to raise his younger brother. The plot is based on the real-life story of former Clemson player Ray McElrathbey. Rated PG for thematic content involving drug addiction and some language. ClearPlay offers a filter.


  • “We Can Be Heroes” (Netflix) — A group of superhero kids band together to save Earth after their superhero parents are abducted; produced by Robert Rodriguez, who gave us the Spy Kids series. Rated PG for mild action/violence.
  • “Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous: Season 2” (Netflix) — Teens attending a dinosaur camp get into deadly trouble after they break the rules. Due to a few intense situations, it’s probably best for older children. Rated TV-Y7. Animated.
  • “Shaun the Sheep: The Farmer’s Llamas” (Netflix) — Shaun the Sheep tricks the farmer into buying llamas, who are far more mischievous than Shaun envisioned. Rated TV-Y. Stop-motion animation.

EDITOR’S NOTE – Reviews of films, books, music or other media that appear in TAB are intended to help readers evaluate current media for themselves, their children and grandchildren in order to decide whether to watch, read or listen. Reviews are not an endorsement by the writer or TAB Media.

By Michael Foust

  • David Garrard Magic