Born in China

Movie review by
Yvonne Condes, Common Sense Media
Born in China Movie Poster Image
 Parents recommend
Nature docu has gorgeous vistas, moments of peril.
  • G
  • 2017
  • 76 minutes

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 16 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 8 reviews

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Families will learn a lot about the habitat and life-and-death struggle of giant pandas, golden monkeys, snow leopards, and red crown cranes and will be introduced to remote, rarely seen locations.

Positive Messages

Family-friendly messages about courage -- as demonstrated by the snow leopard when she gives her life to feed her young, and the golden monkey who saves a member of the family he was forced to leave.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The snow leopard dedicates her life to finding food for and protecting her young. The mother panda teaches her cub what she needs to know to survive. Even though the golden monkey, TaoTao, is violently cast out by his father, TaoTao saves his sister. As in many nature documentaries, the animals are imbued with human-like personality, making them relatable/sympathetic. Some of the narration includes mild stereotypes -- i.e. calling a panda a "helicopter mom" and a monkey a "kung fu master."

Violence & Scariness

The animals fight for dominance -- sometimes to the death. A baby golden monkey is swept up by a hawk and taken away. A dead animal is eaten. A mother animal is injured and dies.

Sexy Stuff

Tie-in to the World Wildlife Fund. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Born in China is a fascinating nature documentary. Narrated by John Krasinski, it follows a rarely seen snow leopard fighting to feed her young in one of the harshest environments on earth, a golden monkey struggling after being cast out by his family, and a doting giant panda helping her cub become independent. While it's family friendly overall and promotes messages related to courage and family, there are scenes of animals in peril and fighting for survival and death that could be scary for very little or sensitive kids. The harsh realities of living in the wild include seeing a baby monkey being swept up by a hawk, animals viciously attacking each other, the death of an animal mother. But older kids and parents will likely be interested in seeing this remote part of the world and its inhabitants.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byLisa F. May 8, 2017

Amazing scenery with heartwarming but sad story

This film is a documentary, and because it is Disney I was completely comfortable taking my 7 year old daughter to it. I could not have been more wrong! **Spo... Continue reading
Parent Written byLisa K. April 22, 2017

Not for young kids

Beautiful photography. Adorable animals. But I didn''t like how the narration portrayed the animals as having human emotions. It also made it very sca... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byOlatunji April 21, 2021

The stoty

Am thinking it is so good
Kid, 12 years old March 23, 2020

Fun Doc, has a very sad scene

Parents need to know that this movie is very sad. SPOILER ALERT: A mother to two cubs is killed. While this is sad, it is nature.

What's the story?

In BORN IN CHINA, director Chuan Lu takes viewers on an epic journey through some of the country's most remote areas. Viewers meet three animal families: snow leopards, golden monkeys, and giant pandas. On the wings of the red-crowned crane -- and accompanied by narration supplied by John Krasinski -- this beautiful Disneynature documentary captures moments and places not seen before on film.

Is it any good?

This documentary is a visually stunning look at areas of China that most of us will never see. That includes the Qinghai Province on the northeast rim of the Tibetan plateau at 5,000 meters above sea level, where a snow leopard struggles to stay alive and feed her young. This stark, dangerous place is juxtaposed with the Wolong Nature Reserve in the Si Chuan province in Central China, where endangered giant pandas live. The dynamics of the animal families are played out for dramatic effect and will definitely tug at a few heartstrings, while keeping you enthralled by the animals' daily struggle.

Some of Krasinski's narration applies mild stereotypes to the animals' behavior -- including calling a panda a "helicopter mom" and a monkey a "kung fu master." But families interested in wildlife and animals will enjoy this fascinating look at what it takes to survive. That said, there's no mention of the devastating environmental impact that pollution has had in other parts of China, or anything at all about the country's relationship to the natural world. Still, taken as a glimpse of these particular areas of the country, Born in China will entertain the entire family.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why wildlife documentaries are so popular. What attracts families to nature films? Are they more appropriate for kids than other live-action movies? Why or why not?

  • Does humanizing animals in movies like Born in China make them more or less relatable? How are some of the animals depicted as "good" or "bad"?

  • How does the movie show the importance of courage? Why is that a key character strength?

  • Kids: Did you find any of the movie scary or upsetting? Why or why not? How much scary stuff can young kids handle?

  • Why do you think TaoTao's father forced him away from his family? Can you understand choices like that when they happen in nature?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love nature

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

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