A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Dealing with loss, respecting wildlife, and overcoming great odds to survive resonate here. There's not a big divide among Africans and white people here like in some other movies with similar themes; the main bad guys are white, some poachers are African, and the main protagonists are white but travel with an African whom they respect greatly.
Positive Role Models
Nonnie is a very strong teen girl character who has adapted so much to her African home that she carries a rifle to scare away predators and helps her father use dynamite to dig a well. Harry goes from eye-rolling, headphone-wearing teen boy to a hardy survivor who even tries to learn the native tongue. Their friend Xhabbo is a wonderful mentor to both of them, helping them deal with loss, come together in a crisis, and survive the desert.
Violence & Scariness
Right off the bat viewers see elephants shot by poachers and tusks sawed off; a baby elephant survives and prods at the dead elephants around him. The poachers are then shot by the game warden. Nonnie sees her parents and Harry's dad after they are shot; one corpse is in bed and another is on the floor in a pool of blood. Dynamite explodes in a few scenes with some casualties. Nonnie, Harry, and Xhabbo run for their lives in the desert and are almost killed by gunfire. Their dog is attacked by a pack of dogs but survives. Xhabbo gets bitten by a scorpion.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
"Bulls--t" is said once. Plus one time each for "bastards," "damned," and "Goddamn it."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
An adult smokes in one scene.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that sensitive animal lovers need to proceed with caution in the first scene where poachers kill elephants and saw off their tusks. More disturbing is the murder of the teen leads' parents -- a main character sees them after they are shot and dynamites the murderers' cars. As the main characters flee for their lives (and are shot at more than once) they learn to work together to survive and deal with their loss. Nonnie is a strong teen character girls will love. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
A FAR OFF PLACE has lots of potential, especially considering the source material (two books by Laurens van der Post). Reese Witherspoon's Nonnie is a great tough-girl character worth following through the desert and Harry is annoying at first as that stereotyped disaffected American teen but really comes around. The action scenes will keep viewers engaged.
But the movie doesn't come together as an epic adventure should. The bad guy is very one-note: very bad, and who knows why? To make lots of money off the ivory, sure, and those kids need to be shot at all costs. And some moments that should be poignant are cheesy instead -- the ending, for starters. And there are some details that needed ironing out. Like how long did they really go without water? Seems like days. And where the heck did Nonnie get a canteen? And how did the dog heal from a big fight in one day? Fans of adventure movies, especially those set in far off places, will still enjoy this one however.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.