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Movie review by
Heather Boerner, Common Sense Media
Duma Movie Poster Image
Enchanting coming-of-age story for kids.
  • PG
  • 2005
  • 100 minutes
Parents recommend

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 9 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The importance of family, love, and remembering those who have died are primary themes. A bully makes an anti-gay joke just before attempting to attack Xan.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Xan is a brave, strong, and loyal young child on an adventure that includes some truly perilous situations.

Violence & Scariness

Frightening situations and peril, one man almost dies in quicksand, insects nearly sting a man to death.

Sexy Stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the father in the film dies, and that one character almost dies twice. This may upset more sensitive viewers. The main character has to deal with his father's death, moving to a new town, enrolling in a new school, and letting go of his favorite pet -- stressful situations for any kid. The film may inspire young animal lovers to ask if they can have a cheetah or other wild animal for a pet. The main character also runs away from home to return his cheetah to the wild and befriends a stranger.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 10 year old Written byNeecie24 April 9, 2008
Parent of a 8 year old Written byindividual1 July 30, 2009

Well told, highly engaging story, beautifully photographed

The movie is a well told story of childhood decision-making (kids don't always make the right choices, even if choosing to do something for the right reaso... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old June 29, 2009
Kid, 7 years old September 24, 2011


a nice movie .My son loved it very much

What's the story?

For Xan (Alexander Michaletos), life is about his father, their farm in South Africa, and their rescued cheetah, Duma. But all along, Xan knows he'll have to return Duma to the wild. The week before Xan and father Peter (Campbell Scott) plan to release Duma, Peter passes away. Xan's life is thrown into turmoil. He and his mother Kristin (Hope Davis) lease the farm and move to the city. Xan is enrolled at a school where he's bullied. Everything seems to go wrong, and then it really does: Duma escapes the apartment, and suddenly the pair is on the lam. Xan uses the opportunity to return Duma to the wild. Here begins a Herculean journey, where a young boy must face life-or-death situations (Where do I get food? Do I trust this stranger? How do I cross this river or evade these lions?). Xan befriends a backpacker, Ripkuna (Eamonn Walker) and the three trek through the desert, face sandstorms, crocodiles, wild boars, lions, and attacking insects.

Is it any good?

With the adventure of Huckleberry Finn and the majesty of The Black Stallion, DUMA is an enchanting coming-of-age drama that teaches viewers the power and importance of family. Kids will be as mesmerized by the action as they are enchanted by Duma's gentle and loyal spirit. Here, the story and story-telling shines. Director Carroll Ballard also directed The Black Stallion and Fly Away Home, and it shows. The camera lovingly follows Duma's every movement and sound, evoking emotions if not human characteristics.

Alexander Michaletos plays Xan well as a scrappy, ingenious kid whose loyalty matches Duma's. Xan's relationship with Ripkuna is unexpectedly loving. Father-figure Ripkuna protects him and teaches him to allow change --both in himself and in Duma, who is less and less a pet and more a wild animal. Bonds -- between a boy and his cheetah, a boy and his mentor, a boy and his deceased father, and a boy and his mother -- are the real driving force here. Duma shows they are stronger than any cheetah is fast.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about family members who have died and how they remember them. What do you do when you have to let go of someone or something you love? 

  • The film may inspire kids to read the book upon which it's based, How It Was With Dooms, or to learn more about Africa's people and wildlife. A trip to the zoo might be in order. They may also want to talk about Xan's decisions. Would you run away from home? Would you talk to a stranger?

  • Would there be another way to get Duma released to the wild?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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