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Parents' Guide to

Never Cry Wolf

By Lisa A. Goldstein, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Suspenseful, poignant wilderness film; a few gross scenes.

Movie PG 1983 105 minutes
Never Cry Wolf Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 8+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 7+

High Quality - Entertaining, Challenging & Worthwhile

I saw this movie when it came out (many years ago) and remember being impressed. Tonight, I watched it with our 7 and 9 year old kids, unsure what to expect. We all really enjoyed it. The movie is challenging, particularly for today's kids, because it is relatively slow and quiet (compared to common kid-oriented fare today), and you need to pay attention to get the message and the humor and all the good stuff it has to offer. That said, there is drama and excitement and beauty and humor and thought-provoking questions that can be grasped, even by kids who are as young as seven. Unanimous thumbs up from my family!!! NOTE: There are some scenes where the adult male lead actor is nude from behind. But it was NOT sexual in nature and basically caused laughter from my 7-9 y.o. crowd. There was no sex, no swearing, no consumerism. The only "violence" was a dream sequence when the lead character dreamed he was attacked by wolves - but it was pretty mild. Also there are some scenes where animals attack another animal. And the lead guy eats cooked mice when supplies run low. But that actually fits into the story . . . . Finally, it is implied that a human kills some wolves central to the story, but the actual killing of those wolves is not portrayed. Nevertheless, a kid of seven will likely understand and it may be upsetting. My 7 y.o. cried a bit when it was clear that the wolf parents were dead and the wolf cubs were alone. But she quickly got back into the larger story, including that the wolf pack comes and takes over caring for the cubs. This is a beautiful movie - gorgeous landscapes, majesty of nature, fascinating story, human frailty and grit, what's good, bad and grey . Great touchstone for discussing complex issues with kids.
age 10+

Fine If You See The World As Natural

I don't disagree with any of the concerns raised, but those same elements are what gives the movie an honest, interesting depth. Yes, he pees to mark his territory and eats mice to test out his theory that wolves live mostly on small mammals--animals do those things. More important, it adds depth and interest to the story and character. The ending, including the nudity, just seem to lose the thread--it feels unnecessary. And the anti-hunting message seems a bit simplistic, although I like the irony of the native getting his teeth and what that means for all involved. We watched part of the 6th grade class I teach and the kids loved it. Still, I can see, out of context, parents being concerned. It feels like they would be more concerned to be concerned instead of really concerned about THEIR child. My own children were fine.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3 ):
Kids say (2 ):

A recipe for a boring movie is watching a biologist in the Arctic study wolves, but to director Carroll Ballard's credit, he put together a film that's suspenseful and interesting from the start. The cinematography and sound won awards (including an Oscar), and the film is also on the New York Times list of the 100 "essential" children's movies. The sacrifice that Tyler makes by living with the wolves is visually and movingly portrayed in this medium; few words are needed. The wolves themselves are incredible to see. And anytime Brian Dennehy's larger-than-life, jovial character is on screen, he's a worthy competitor.

The realities of life in the tundra are stark, however, which might be difficult for younger kids to handle. Kids might also consider it slow or not fully appreciate its beauty. Older kids might have trouble with a couple gross animal-eating scenes. The ending -- well, there really isn't one, which is disappointing. Too many unanswered questions are left; an epilogue would have been nice.

Movie Details

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