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 Disney family adventure from the '80s features some bad guys who capture a beloved cheetah pet, put her in a cage, and starve her. Poachers hang animal skins around their dwellings -- proof of their deadly deeds. Kids are kind-hearted, but make some questionable choices to protect their pet, though everything turns out well in the end.
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What's the story?
Teddy (Keith Coogan) and Susan (Lucy Deakins) join their parents in Kenya, where they are on a work assignment. Their parents expect the kids to miss their home in Los Angeles so badly that they will want to go home immediately. But the opposite proves to be true, especially when they meet Morogo (Colin Mothupi) a "tribal" boy who lives in the next village. Together they explore the wild surroundings and bring home a baby cheetah, whom they tame and call Duma. But when poachers get a whiff of Duma's domestication, they capture her and try to exploit her running ability in a race. Can Teddy and Susan save her before she is taken away forever?
Is it any good?
It's refreshing to see teenagers portrayed as being hungry for adventure and excited to be in a new environment. Life in tribal Africa has been pretty simplified here, but there are touches of truth in this tale, where culture clashes are concerned. Morogo's parents are not crazy about their son getting mixed up in the visiting American's drama. For good reason too -- Teddy and Susan put Morogo in harm's way.
Animal lovers will enjoy seeing all of the herds and flocks at play here. Cheetah lovers will cherish seeing Duma run and play and purr with her human friends. There is a happy ending to this story, which is a relief, once one realizes that the skins on the poacher's walls came from living, thriving animals of the wild.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what poaching is and how it affects wildlife. What dangers do animals like Duma really face?
Talk about the differences in the lives of the American kids and Morogo. How would Morogo's life be different if he lived in Los Angeles? How would the American kids handle living Morogo's life? What kinds of things change for Teddy and Susan when they arrive in Kenya?
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