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Movie Review

Wild America

Reviewed by: Christopher L. Hotz

Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
12 to Adult
107 min.

Starring: Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Devon Sawa, Scott Bairstow, Frances Fisher, Jamey Sheridan, / Director: William Dear / Released by: Warner Bros.

I love movies, but it’s getting increasingly hard to find good ones. “Wild America”, however, is an excellent film from a variety of viewpoints. Quite honestly, for the first time in a while, I left the theater with a guilt-free conscience. That was nice!

“Wild America” is the story of three brothers and how their interest in moviemaking and animals leads them through a series of adventures in the wild. It also realistically demonstrates how brothers can pick on/fight with each other… pretty realistic in that sense.

From a Christian point of view this movie contains an interesting, anti-Biblical perspective on lying. It says that lying is okay unless it hurts someone. HOWEVER, at the end of the movie, the youngest son confronts his father about it and thus (if memory serves) effectively presents the case for telling the truth.

The thing I found most bothersome in this movie consumed only about five seconds. The first 2½ seconds were a shot of a scene of the two older brothers racing down to the ocean’s edge with two girls stripping away their clothing on the way down to the water. Nothing is shown but everything comes to mind. (After all, that’s what they intended!)

THE BOTTOM LINE—I recommend this movie only for those 12-13 and above. The “mature” elements described above and some scary sceens make it totally unsuitable for anyone younger. I may have missed some language, but nothing really stuck in my mind.

Year of Release—1997

Viewer Comments
…The story line veers away from Christian values a few times with; a brief skinny dipping scene, some swearing—including using the Lord’s name in vain, and a surprising lesson from Mrs. Stouffer that lying is ok as long as no one gets hurt. On the other hand the film does have its redeeming qualities leaving you with the overall message that family is important and that a lie, however small, is still a lie. If there is a moral to this story it would be how important it is to stick to your dreams, to work hard and tell the truth, and to be all that you are capable of being.
—St. Albert Parish Youth Ministry Movie Night
I took 2 of my girls (9 and 11) along with a little friend to see “Wild America”…it was about the only family movie playing! One thing I had a problem with was the kids cussing, even in front of their parents. Another thing that required explaining to my kids was the difference in eras. Knowing it was based on fact, my kids couldn’t believe parents would let kids go off like that. Today, it would be incredibly foolhardy. All that aside, the girls enjoyed it and I did, too.
—Becki Bozart, age 38
I’d give this movie 9 out of 10. It ruled! Frances Fisher and Scott Bairstow were outstanding in their roles. Danny Glover’s cameo was priceless. This, by far, outdoes all the other blockbusters I’ve seen this summer.
—Michael C., age 15
I had pretty low expectations for this movie and I loved it! It’s the best family movie I’ve seen in along time.
—Kerry, age 12
I went in not expecting much and came out with a whole new attitude. “Wild America” was well acted and well written and I highly recomend it. I was even surprised to see that it was based on a true story. They kind of hid that thought at the end of the movie. Personally, I would have liked to know that at the beginning so I could appreciate their adventures knowing it really happened.
—Peter Wright, age 21
I went in to this movie a little less than thrilled at the prospect. I came out suprised and satisfied at the fact-based story of three teen brothers who set out on their own to make a documentary film. The family interaction was great, and fully believable. Very slight profanity usage was about all that marred this film. We need more movies in this vein for families.
—Jim Miller, age 40
The president of Morgan Creek (which produced “Wild America”) was quoted as saying, “we’re making family movies like you asked, but nobody’s showing up.” Thanks to those who went to see “Men in Black” and “Con Air” instead, that’s what we’ll get more of.
—Brian, age 24