Born to Be Wild 3D

Posted on April 7, 2011 at 6:06 pm

B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating: G
Profanity: None
Alcohol/ Drugs: None
Violence/ Scariness: Orphaned animals, references to predators (including humans)
Diversity Issues: Diverse characters
Date Released to Theaters: April 8, 2011
Date Released to DVD: April 16, 2012
Amazon.com ASIN: B0071L6T24

One way or another you’ll find yourself saying, “Awwwwww.”  The adorable baby animals and the grace and kindness of the people who care for them are guaranteed to warm every heart in the theater.

In Borneo, Dr. Biruté Mary Galdikas rescues orangutans orphaned by developers who cut down the jungle to produce palm oil.  In Kenya, Dame Daphne M. Sheldrick provides a home for the baby elephants orphaned by poachers.  More than five thousand miles apart, the two women care for different animals but share the same goal: to raise the babies without taming them, so they can return to a natural life in the wild.  Morgan Freeman narrates the story, taking us back and forth as we see the newest babies arrive and the adolescents “graduate.” The goal is to nurture them only as long as they need help and then find them a safe home in a nature preserve. They are “under human care but not human control; they need to retain their wildness.”

Some of the animals arrive traumatized.  A baby elephant who saw humans kill his mother has to learn these humans are different; they just want to feed and protect him.  Amazingly, the other orphaned elephants gather around to reassure him that he is finally safe.  They show him that a giant-sized bottle can be a good way to get milk.  The milk, by the way, is a special formula developed by Dame Daphne over 24 years, making it possible for the first time to raise an infant elephant without a mother.   Unlike mother elephants, humans are not big enough to cast protective shadows to prevent sunburn, so Dame Daphne and her colleagues rub sunblock on the tender ears of the baby elephants instead.  And elephants do not sleep well alone, so the keepers curl up near them at night. These are the cutest pachyderms on screen since the baby elephants marched to the Mancini soundtrack in “Hatari.”

The elephants are social creatures who create a community of their own.  In one very touching scene, when the now “ex-orphans” are brought to a sort of halfway house to get used to living away from the humans the current residents somehow sense that newcomers are arriving and come to the drop-off point to welcome them.  The orangutans interact more directly with their human care-givers, draping themselves along their backs and hugging their chests.  Dr. Galdikas and her crew have built a contraption for swinging and climbing to teach them the skills they need to find food and a safe place to sleep — a literal jungle gym.  She teaches them more than skills for survival; she makes each one of them feel special and cared for.  “As long as they feel loved,” she says, “they’ll have the confidence they need.”

The movie is empathetic but respectful to the animals.  It enlarges our circle of compassion by reacquainting us with our fellow residents of the planet.  Yet, it avoids getting cutesy or overly anthropomorphic.  These are not pets and they are not being tamed.  They are temporary guests, learning what they need to know so they can go home.  In the early scenes, we see the orangutans covered with shampoo and sharing a plate of pasta with Dr. Galdikas to the tune of bouncy American pop tunes such as Hank Williams’ “Jumbalya.”  Then as they return to the wild, the soundtrack turns African, more serious and stirring, and we share the mixed feelings of these dedicated people who have cared for the animals for so long.  We are happy that they are going home but know they will be missed.  We are hopeful for their future but worried that the wilderness left for them is shrinking every day.

This is everything a family movie should be: touching, funny, and inspiring.  And with a brisk 40-minute running time no one has to sit still for too long.  The IMAX 3D format may be overwhelming for children under five, but anyone older than that will find the baby animals hard to resist, the scenery breathtaking, and the devotion of Dr. Galdikas and Dame Daphne deeply moving.

(more…)

Related Tags:

 

3D Documentary DVD/Blu-Ray Pick of the Week Environment/Green For the Whole Family

Oceans

Posted on October 19, 2010 at 8:00 am

Forget about “Star Wars” and “Aliens” — there are creatures living beneath the waves on this very planet that are far weirder and more exotic than anything Hollywood has conjured up.
Huge, swooping creatures with bright speckles; shape transforming beasts that pounce and gobble up crabs; gelatinous monsters that glow; all this and more is captured in “Oceans,” from Disneynature.
The documentary is accompanied by a narration by Pierce Brosnan which sometimes gets overly flowery, but at its best adds an element of poetry to help young audiences understand that there is a larger significance to the images they are seeing. “Oceans” also offers a message of concern about pollution and the environment (appropriate for its Earth Day release). But the star of “Oceans” is clearly not the words but the pictures, and they are worth the price of admission many times over.
Scenes of the predatory side of ocean life are kept to a minimum, and are usually shot from a tasteful distance. There are cute moments — a sea otter floating on it back in the sunshine at Monterey bay keeps a rock on its stomach, to use in cracking open the shellfish it gobbles up– and tender moments– an ugly mother walrus sweetly nuzzles her even uglier baby walrus, or a mother seal coaxing her baby into the water for the first time. The cameras of directors/writers Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud do a good job of conveying the vast range of the ocean, by contrasting the powerful crashing of immense waves in a storm with quiet glimpses of delicate life forms suspended in the tranquil depths; they contrast huge whales with tiny one celled creatures.

(more…)

Related Tags:

 

Documentary Environment/Green For the Whole Family
ir.gif

Go Green With Kids’ TV Favorites

Posted on March 29, 2010 at 3:57 pm

Get ready for earth day with new DVDs that help kids understand how to care for our planet. Nick Jr Favorites: Go Green. Dora, Diego, Blue, Kai-Lan and more share information and ideas about respecting our environment. And WordGirl uses her superhero strength and colossal vocabulary to defeat the enemies of keeping our world safe and healthy in Word Girl: Earth Day Girl.

Related Tags:

 

Environment/Green Movie Mom’s Top Picks for Families Preschoolers
THE MOVIE MOM® is a registered trademark of Nell Minow. Use of the mark without express consent from Nell Minow constitutes trademark infringement and unfair competition in violation of federal and state laws. All material © Nell Minow 1995-2019, all rights reserved, and no use or republication is permitted without explicit permission. This site hosts Nell Minow’s Movie Mom® archive, with material that originally appeared on Yahoo! Movies, Beliefnet, and other sources. Much of her new material can be found at Rogerebert.com, Huffington Post, and WheretoWatch. Her books include The Movie Mom’s Guide to Family Movies and 101 Must-See Movie Moments, and she can be heard each week on radio stations across the country.

Website Designed by Max LaZebnik