A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this brief (40 minutes) IMAX documentary is a safe choice for younger kids because there aren't any upsetting scenes of predatory violence or deaths, both of which are common in comparable, longer films about the animal kingdom. There are, however, some references to the reasons that animals were orphaned (mostly due to poachers, since predators don't typically leave young animals alive). The two female experts followed in the documentary are wonderful role models, particularly to kids interested in zoology and nature, because they've dedicated their lives to researching and rescuing animals, as well as preserving their natural habitats.
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What's the story?
Shot in IMAX 3-D, BORN TO BE WILD is a wildlife documentary that alternates between following primatologist Birute Galdikas in the jungles of Borneo and elephant expert Daphne Sheldrick in a Kenyan wildlife preserve. Audiences watch as the two conservationists and their staffs work tirelessly to rescue orphaned orangutans and elephants, respectively, acting as surrogate mothers (even sleeping with and "nursing" the juveniles with a specially concocted formula) until they're old enough to be released back into the wild.
Is it any good?
Narrated by the soothing tones of Morgan Freeman, this documentary makes up for in content what it lacks in length. At a sprightly 40 minutes, it's just long enough to entertain even younger moviegoers with short attention spans. It may not always provide the most comprehensive view of the elephant and orangutan crisis (there's no sociopolitical commentary about why local practices contribute to the hunting of the adult elephants and orangutans), but it does provide an in-depth look at how two determined women, with the help of dozens of animal-loving staffers, have single-handedly made a tremendous impact on wildlife protection around the world.
It's hard to dislike a documentary that focuses on adorable baby animals. Watching a team of Indonesian women put diapers on newborn orangutan orphans and then sing a sweet lullaby as one of the babies falls asleep will be enough to make any mothers in the audience shed a tear or two. But despite the often-sentimental visuals, director David Lickley doesn't allow the narration to be overwrought or maudlin. Instead, he often hands over the narration to Galdikas and Sheldrick so that they can tell us in their own words why they're so passionate about these animals -- and why we should care about their plight. And even better than the touching documentary are the conversations you and your kids can have afterward about the enormity of the work of these dedicated experts.
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