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(2002) (voices of Lacey Chabert, Tim Curry) (PG)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
None Minor Heavy *Moderate Mild
Moderate None Heavy None None
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
*None None Mild Moderate Moderate

Children's Animated Adventure: A young girl risks losing her ability to talk to animals in her effort to save an African cheetah cub and others from poachers.
Nigel (voice of TIM CURRY) and Marianne Thornberry (voice of JODI CARLISLE) have traveled the world with their kids, teenager Debbie (voice of DANIELLE HARRIS), 12-year-old Eliza (voice of LACEY CHABERT) and wild younger brother Donnie (voice of FLEA), making wildlife documentaries.

Now in the African savannah, along with Nigel's stuffy British parents, Radcliffe and Cordelia (voice of LYNN REDGRAVE), the family is preparing to travel to the Congo to see an elephant migration that will coincide with an eclipse.

That's exciting for Eliza as a spell cast on her by shaman Mnyambo (voice of KEVIN MICHAEL RICHARDSON) has enabled her to speak with all animals, including her best friend, Darwin (voice of TOM KANE), a proper sounding chimp. That gift, however, results in trouble when she goes off to play with several cubs belonging to Akela (voice of ALFRE WOODARD), a mother cheetah.

Before Eliza can do anything, poachers sweep down and seize one of the cubs, Tally (voice of KIMBERLY BROOKS). Despite her best efforts, Eliza can't rescue him and feels awful about what happened. Seeing that and fearing what the wild is doing to her granddaughter, Cordelia implores that Eliza be sent off to a London boarding school to receive a proper education and social training.

With Eliza and Darwin away, the rest of the family heads for the Congo, but it's not long before the two of them escape and make their way back to Africa where they run into Sloan (voice of RUPERT EVERETT) and Bree Blackburn (voice of MARISA TOMEI), the latter of whom claims to be a wildlife veterinarian.

As Eliza resumes her quest to find and rescue Tally, she eventually learns that the poachers are also headed for the elephant migration in the Congo. Racing against time and facing the threat of losing her gift should she tell anyone of it, she and the rest of the family do what they must to help each other and stop the poachers.

Since it's animated, it's a good bet many younger ones will, particularly if they're fans of the TV show.
For some adventure peril.
It's unclear whether kids view animated characters as role models, but here's a quick look at the major characteristics of the main characters.
  • NIGEL THORNBERRY is a British explorer who's somewhat comically oblivious to what his family thinks of him and their adventures.
  • MARIANNE is his wife who's concerned about whether Eliza is being brought up the right way.
  • ELIZA is their daughter who's concerned about the environment and animal protection and can talk to the animals. After she's indirectly responsible for the theft of a cheetah cub, she sets out to rescue it and stop some poachers.
  • DEBBIE is her older, teenage sister who's not happy about being in the wild.
  • DONNIE is their younger, wild-child brother.
  • DARWIN is the proper speaking, but somewhat neurotic and nervous chimpanzee who converses with Eliza and assists her.
  • AKELA is the worried mother of the stolen cheetah cub.
  • CORDELIA is Eliza's stuffy grandmother who believes she's not refined enough and encourages the girl's parents to send her to boarding school.
  • SLOAN and BREE BLACKBURN are poachers who seize the cheetah cub and plan on killing many elephants.


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.

    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).

    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this animated adventure that's been rated PG. Several perilous and action-based scenes involving poachers' actions of stealing or trying to harm animals as well as some brief fighting and a trip down some rapids could be unsettling, suspenseful or even frightening to some younger viewers. Their reaction to that, of course, depends on their age, level of maturity and tolerance for such material.

    Other slapstick style variety material is present, as is some brief crude humor. Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes, and some imitative behavior is present. Beyond that, however, the remaining categories have little or nothing in the way of major objectionable content.

    Even so, if you're still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who may be interested in seeing it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

  • None.
  • Darwin ends up falling down near the rear end of an elephant and reacts to the smell.
  • We hear a farting sound from a horse. When Darwin then asks where the bathroom is, the horse tells him that he's standing on it (and we see a cartoon pile of manure).
  • Debbie has a typical older female teenager attitude about being in the wild (not happy and acting upset, but most of that's an act).
  • While playing with Akela's cubs, Eliza ignores the cheetah mom's rule about not going beyond a certain point.
  • Several girls in boarding school laugh at Eliza when she falls. They later make fun of her again.
  • Eliza's roommate at boarding school, Sarah Wellington, has a bad and condescending attitude toward Eliza.
  • Sloan and Bree turn out to be poachers who obviously have bad attitudes (Bree asks a cheetah cub how he's going to grow big enough to grow her a coat) and plan on killing many elephants.
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" could also be unsettling or suspenseful to some younger kids, but might not have any effect at all on older ones.
  • Much like any nature show on TV, we see a cheetah hiding in the brush and then chasing after some gazelles (that eventually stampede around Cordelia).
  • As some suspenseful music plays, we see the poachers flying up toward Eliza and the cheetah cubs, focusing on one of them. A person then grabs the cub and pulls it away, with Eliza trying to save it. Akela then jumps and hangs on the man's back, biting at him, but he throws her off. Meanwhile, Eliza holds onto the ladder dangling from the chopper and the man pushes his foot down onto Eliza's hand to make her let go. He then cuts at the ladder rope and she eventually falls but is okay as she lands on her parents' camper.
  • Eliza has a dream where the cheetah club floats away from her, yelling for her help.
  • Eliza spots an ailing rhino running along her train that says it's been shot and that the poachers were after its horn. She jumps off to help.
  • A large snake approaches Debbie but she's oblivious to it or the actions of a local native who fights and then throws it aside.
  • Sloan asks how many volts of electricity it would take to kill a thousand elephants (meaning that's his plan, which could worry some kids).
  • Sloan carries Debbie out to a ledge to make Eliza tell him who told her about their plan.
  • Several characters end up going down the river through some rapids on a log and we see an approaching waterfall. One ends up holding onto a branch just above the waterfall.
  • We see that the poachers have trapped a large herd of elephants in a valley and are planning on scaring them to make them stampede and run toward an electrified fence that will kill them. Eliza and the others then try to stop that from happening. When they do, Sloan orders his men to start shooting (but they don't). He then sweeps in, picks up Eliza, and then throws her down to a waterfall where she ends up in the rapids (and a shaman rescues her).
  • We hear some distant gunfire from the poachers.
  • Knife: Seen on one of the poachers.
  • Explosives: Set off by poachers to make elephants panic.
  • Rifle: Carried by Sloan.
  • Phrases: "Chill," "Geek," "Excuse me while I go find a container for my joy" (what a sarcastic Debbie says to her dad), "Freaky," "If I weren't so mad, that would totally rock," "Don't freak," "Dorky," "Creep" and "I'm not going to spend the rest of my life with a big purple butt."
  • Donnie puts worms in his grandmother's tea.
  • Donnie does the "wedgie dance" (pulling up his shorts and dancing around) on several occasions. He later gives others wedgies as well.
  • Darwin loudly belches.
  • The girls at a boarding school get into a food fight.
  • We see a guy on the subway with many piercings in his nose and spiked hair.
  • Debbie wears a midriff-revealing top.
  • None.
  • A heavy amount of cartoon-based suspenseful and dramatic music plays in the film.
  • None.
  • None.
  • None regarding humans, but we see some baboons' bare butts on several occasions.
  • None.
  • Akela the cheetah mom worries about her cub that the poachers nabbed.
  • Poachers.
  • Living in and/or exploring the wild and its animal life, particularly in foreign countries.
  • Boarding school.
  • Darwin accidentally falls down some rocks to the ground.
  • As some suspenseful music plays, we see the poachers flying up toward Eliza and the cheetah cubs, focusing on one of them. A person then grabs the cub and pulls it away, with Eliza trying to save it. Akela then jumps and hangs on the man's back, biting at him, but he throws her off. Meanwhile, Eliza holds onto the ladder dangling from the chopper and the man pushes his foot down onto Eliza's hand to make her let go. He then cuts at the ladder rope and she eventually falls but is okay as she lands on her parents' camper.
  • Eliza accidentally slams Darwin into a window and pushes him under the bed while trying to hide him from her roommate at boarding school.
  • Darwin accidentally sprays perfume into his eyes and falls over.
  • Darwin is accidentally knocked off a moving train.
  • Donnie knocks a cage door open that accidentally knocks down Debbie.
  • Debbie is accidentally clotheslined by a vine. She then crashes her ATV and is a little dazed.
  • Sloan grabs Debbie around the neck, while a local native grabs Sloan's head. Sloan then elbows that man back against a camper. Sloan carries Debbie out to a ledge and then throws her down (but she's okay).
  • Various characters fall down onto Debbie through a hole.
  • A helicopter (with poachers onboard) crashes, but we don't see the impact.

  • Reviewed November 19, 2002 / Posted December 20, 2002

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