A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Adventures of the Wilderness Family includes many scenes in which family members are threatened or attacked by wild animals and under siege from other natural events (a rockslide, a driving storm, a raging river). In contrast to the lovely, pastoral setting and images of some of nature's most beautiful and playful creatures, scenes of the family dog locked in ferocious battles with predators (wolves, a cougar, a grizzly), as well as moments during which the children run for their lives from those same predators, may be too disturbing and intense for younger or more sensitive kids. Still, the messages -- about teamwork, respect for nature, and a satisfying life without the trappings of the modern city -- are positive; and the portrayal of an interdependent family who love each other and mature together is admirable.
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What's the story?
Concerned about his daughter's fragile health and the family's busy, stressful life in Los Angeles, Skip Robinson (Robert Logan) urges wife, Pat (Susan Damante-Shaw) and their two kids to make a drastic lifestyle change in THE ADVENTURES OF THE WILDERNESS FAMILY. What if they trade in their smog-filled, urban world for simplicity, natural beauty, and the challenges of living in Rocky Mountains? It's a scary idea for these city folk, but one they're all willing to try. The family's initial misgivings intensify when they find the wonder and awesome power of their new, isolated environment brings danger as well as joy and serenity. For every playful bear and raccoon that becomes a part of the family, there's an angry or territorial animal trying to protect its environment. And after every exquisite sunlit day, natural disasters common to the mountainous region occur. It's a much more perilous adventure than any of them anticipated. Will their good intentions, newly learned skills, and rich experiences as a family be enough to see them through?
Is it any good?
The Adventures of the Wilderness Family is a warm-hearted, old-fashioned family film, a crowd-pleaser and box office hit when it was released in the mid-1970s. By today's standards, however, the human acting is only passable; the story is predictable and safe; and the action sequences with teeth-baring, clawing animals fighting for their lives may be too intense for young audiences.
The animals are the stars here -- the bear cubs, the raccoons, the lovable old black bear, and the family dog turn in award-winning "performances" -- without relying on computer enhancements or sophisticated special effects. For families with kids mature enough to watch a lovable family dog contend with a pack of wolves or a grizzly bear, or a young mom and her kids seemingly defenseless as the grizzly wreaks havoc on the cabin in which they're hiding, it's an exciting adventure.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about movie themes. Moving from a big city to a small town or to a rural area is a common movie (and television) theme. Why do you think this appeals to audiences? If you were to make such a change, what would you miss? What would be willing to give up?
Find out how wild animals are cared for and trained during filming. Standards have changed for work with animals since the 1970s when this movie was made. Do you think it's important to have strict regulations? Why?
Movies usually reflect the time in which they were made. If Adventures of the Wilderness Family was made today, how might Pat's and Jenny's character and behavior be different?
Themes & Topics
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