Elephant Tales

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Elephant Tales Movie Poster Image
Somewhat sad yet heartwarming film about orphaned animals.
  • G
  • 2008
  • 92 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

While intended to entertain, this film does teach lessons about the devastation poachers cause in the African wild.

Positive Messages

The importance of teamwork is shown as the orphaned young animals work together to try and stop The Badness.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Zef apologizes to his younger brother Tutu for calling him "stupid," and goes to great lengths to look out for him. Tutu is a playful and adventurous young elephant who does what he can to defend his friends and his brother from The Badness. 

Violence & Scariness

Early in the film, the sound of rifle fire is heard as Zef and Tutu's mother is killed by poachers. While the killing is not shown, Tutu cries "Mommy! Mommy!" Animals destroy a poacher camp, breaking and tearing things, and even setting it on fire with gasoline.

Sexy Stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Elephant Tales is a sometimes sad yet heartwarming movie about a group of orphaned animals trying to find a new home after their mothers had been taken by "The Badness," aka poaching and human destruction. The early scenes, as the young elephants Zef and Tutu try to come to terms with the loss of their mother, might be tough for younger viewers, but it also opens up ample opportunity for families to discuss the importance of wildlife preservation. The scenery -- filmed in a South African nature park -- is beautiful, and parents and kids should both enjoy the movie's touching story and deeper message.

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What's the story?

Zef (Jonathan Patrick Moore) and Tutu are two young brother elephants living in the wilds of South Africa. When The Badness (a term the animals of the region use to describe poachers and human devastation) kills their mother, Zef tells his younger brother Tutu that their mother was lost to a rainbow. This sends Tutu, followed by Zef, and then joined by a ragtag group of similarly orphaned animals, on a quest to find their mothers and a new herd. Throughout the journey, they must hide from and avoid The Badness so they aren't captured or killed. When Zef is captured by the poachers and locked inside a cage, Tutu and the other animals decide they must try and rescue Zef and fight The Badness.

Is it any good?

Unlike so many "talking animal" movies, ELEPHANT TALES has something extra -- a deeper message for its audience. Through the sadness of brother elephants Zef and Tutu as they witness the death of their mother at the hand of poachers, and as they join other animals similarly orphaned, kids witness in very personal terms the devastation wreaked by poaching. These animals trying to come to terms with "The Badness" should inspire family discussion about wildlife preservation, in Africa and elsewhere.

Not that it's all sadness and seriousness. The talking animals find plenty of opportunities to engage in the business of being cute and/or silly. While this does break up the more dramatic moments, there will still be some who consider this film to be too slow-paced, but for animal lovers and for those who believe in preserving and protecting wild animals from mankind's greed, this will prove a must-see movie.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the messages in this movie. How is the importance of wildlife preservation represented in the film?

  • How are the ways in which poaching affects different animals -- individually and as a whole -- shown in the movie?

  • How is this movie different from most other "talking animal" films?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love animals

Themes & Topics

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