Disney live-action adventure with a few perilous moments.
  • Review Date: March 8, 2011
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1988
  • Running Time: 83 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

Introduction to some Swahili words, Masai culture, animal habitat, and life in Africa.

Positive messages

Lessons of loyalty and love abound here. Teddy and Susan risk a lot to save their pet cheetah, Duma. But these risks include lying and putting themselves and their friend in danger. Slight ethnic stereotyping of Indian shop-owners as greedy.

Positive role models

Adults are either smart and supportive or scheming and bad. It's pretty easy to discern which are which, though. The kids are loyal, kind, and good-hearted, though they sometimes lie and take risks for their cause.

Violence & scariness

Several perilous moments like being chased by an elephant. A tribesman threatens another man with a spear. No blood. Kids are captured and put in a cage, but their friend frees them.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable

Coca Cola bottles and signs seen throughout the movie.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A poacher smokes cigarettes. Adults may or may not be drinking alcohol at a party-- hard to tell what is in their glasses.

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.

Kids say

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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.

Families can talk 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?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 18, 1988
DVD release date:May 21, 2002
Cast:Colin Mothupi, Keith Coogan, Lucy Deakins
Director:Jeff Blyth
Studio:Buena Vista
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Adventures, Wild animals
Run time:83 minutes
MPAA rating:G

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent Written byMixyplixl January 9, 2014

Entertaining family movie... just beware of problematic messages

We really enjoyed this movie for the most part - beautiful scenery, nice portrayal of an American family adjusting to being in Africa, and of course raising a baby Cheetah! I also liked the children's friendship with a local tribal boy, that seemed very believable and real. However, there are two problems with the film: one, the children end up deciding to go off on their own at a key point in the film. All comes out OK, but the way it was presented, I don't think it was clear enough that they were really putting themselves in danger. Second, the very idea of being able to keep a wild animal as a pet is not one to encourage. It is always presented in the film that the cheetah ended up "completely tame," and we have all read news accounts of the troubles with that assumption. With a slightly older child, one can explain these issues and it's not a big deal.
What other families should know
Educational value


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