A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Turkles is a 2011 film about kids saving turtles from poachers. Talk of raccoons, skunks, and humans eating sea turtle eggs might disturb sensitive kids. But kids may enjoy documentary footage of baby turtles slowly making their way across the sand to the relative safety of the sea. This is meant to be a comedy, but most of the humor falls flat. Any hints of peril are defused by the fact that the filmmakers lack the skill to create real dramatic tension.
What's the story?
Sixth-grade students attend Loggerhead Camp in Juno Beach, Florida, where they and their eighth-grade counselors track endangered sea turtle nests along the local beach. Some of the counselors double as crew members of a documentary team recording the work done at the Loggerhead Institute. As they report, the baby turtles are vulnerable to predators during their long trek from nest to sea, but some will never be born to make the trek because both wildlife and unscrupulous humans steal the eggs. Among the human thieves is a team of inept bad guys hired to illegally round up eggs for sale on the black market. Buyers will pay as much as $500 per dozen, we are told. The thieves are idiots, as are most of the grown-ups in the film, and after they take a tour given by the Loggerhead Institute, they raid nests night after night. The kids take too long to figure out who is stealing the eggs and how to catch them red-handed. Ultimately, the thieves are arrested, and the ambitious and environmentally conscious kids are awarded four-year college scholarships to the schools of their choice.
Is it any good?
Turkles has good intentions but is painfully bad in every way. Support for this film came from Burt Reynolds' Institute for Film & Theatre and from local schools, and that may explain why this is decidedly not a professional film. Although the director's résumé boasts a long background in television news with a list of produced documentaries (the quality of which has not been researched), this attempt at a feature fails in every category: directing, editing, pacing, dialogue, dramatic structure, plot, script, and acting. Not a single item on that list is even realized at a level any ordinary audience member would recognize in a bad TV sitcom, with the exception of a brief appearance by Reynolds himself, who is very good as someone's grandfather.
On the other hand, any eighth-grade teacher would applaud the effort if this were a middle school science project, as it contains enough facts about turtle-nesting habits and the need for human stewardship of those great sea creatures to constitute a solid 20-minute documentary -- but that still leaves this 90-minute feature at least 70 minutes too long.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about sea turtles. They live in the water but lay eggs only in the sand, which requires that, upon hatching, the tiniest babies must slog across the sand to the sea, vulnerable to prey. What else do you know about sea turtles? How can you learn more?
Why do you think humans try to help protect sea turtles?
What would happen if there were no more sea turtles?
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