Dukale's Dream

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Dukale's Dream Movie Poster Image
Earnest, promotional docu about celebrity's humanitarianism.
  • G
  • 2015
  • 70 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The movie's global message is an important lesson in economics -- that a purchase of fair trade coffee (or anything, really) at your local coffee shop can and does have positive repercussions for small farmers around the world. Jackman's connection to Dukale shows how two people from vastly different backgrounds and experiences can influence each other.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jackman and Furness are undeniably positive role models. They use Jackman's visibility to champion the cause of fair-trade coffee, then take it a step further by creating Laughing Man Coffee. Dukale is a devoted coffee farmer, father, and husband. His wife is similarly committed to the family business; she also helps run a cafe with the coffee they grow.

Violence
Sex
Language
Consumerism

At the end of the documentary, the focus shifts to Laughing Man Coffee -- a company owned by Jackman himself.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dukale's Dream is a documentary focusing on the humanitarian efforts of actor Hugh Jackman and his wife Deborra-Lee Furness through the charity World Vision Australia. While on a field visit to Ethiopia, Jackman and Furness meet struggling young coffee farmer Dukale; the friendship spurs Jackman to turn promoting and eventually selling fair-trade coffee into a personal mission. There's no inappropriate content in the documentary, but younger kids may not understand the social or economic context of the story. But older tweens and teens will learn how humanitarianism, the global economy, and personal consumer habits can have positive effects on poor farmers in Third World countries.

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What's the story?

DUKALE'S DREAM chronicles how a humanitarian field visit to Ethiopia for Hugh Jackman and his wife, Deborra-Lee Furness, changed the celebrity couple's lives, prompting them to help fair-trade Ethiopian coffee farmers. As big donors to the international charity World Vision Australia, Jackman and Furness meet the organization's Aussie CEO, Tim Costello, who takes them to visit (and work in the field with) coffee farmers, since coffee is Ethiopia's most important export. After meeting, helping, and befriending a young coffee farmer named Dukale, Jackman returns to New York determined to drink only fair-trade coffee. He then takes his vow one step further, starting his own fair-trade coffee company, Laughing Man, which supports local growers around the world.

Is it any good?

Dukale's Dream is a sweet and well-intentioned documentary about superstar Jackman's life-changing connection with Dukale, a struggling Ethiopian coffee farmer. But by the end, the film can't escape a slightly bitter aftertaste of self promotion. Had the filmmaker spent slightly more time covering the Ethiopian economy -- and the way the coffee farmers were profiting from Jackman's efforts -- the movie wouldn't feel quite as much like an infomercial. The parts in Ethiopia are the best because -- as Furness points out -- there's something magical about seeing a farmer who's happy to work the land plant coffee trees alongside a movie star who lives in a $25 million apartment.

Jackman looks positively at ease sweating and digging in the dirt and playing with little Ethiopian kids, some of whom recognize him as Wolverine. And it's definitely remarkable that meeting Dukale inspired Jackman and Furness to vow never to drink coffee unless it's fair trade. Even the fact that Jackman starts a coffee business is great in theory -- but the way it's filmed comes off like an in-house video for a shareholders' meeting. It's a slightly less impactful ending to what's otherwise a powerful message about making every dollar count and how one influential person's generosity can make a world of difference.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about celebrities' power to influence others and shed light on a cause. How is Hugh Jackman in a unique position to help coffee farmers across the globe?

  • How can viewers champion the cause of supporting poor coffee growers in Africa -- or other struggling farmers throughout the world? What about those struggling with poverty closer to home?

  • Some critics have called Dukale's Dream overly promotional and more about a celebrity (Jackman) than a farmer (Dukale). Do you agree? What's your ultimate take away?

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