Making the Grades
If there ever was a family movie, Wild America should be it. Loosely based on the lives of the Stouffer brothers (three boys who have made a name for themselves as documentary film makers), Wild America tells the story of the pivotal summer when they decide to buy a movie camera and go on the road to start making films of endangered animals.
The family relationships that exist between the five members of the Stouffer clan is where the real lessons of the movie develop. The three boys have a strong love-hate relationship as they strive to be individuals while still holding tight to the family ties that bind them. Their understanding mother seems able to roll with any punches they throw at each other, while their tough skinned father crumbles at all the right moments. It is within this family structure that the viewer learns about the importance of working hard, respecting your mother, and the truth about lying.
But parents should note that the rest of the movie's fictionalized adventure may provide ideas to young audiences that could lead to dangerous imitations. The title Wild America identifies the boys behind the camera more so than the animals being filmed. These kids do some crazy and dangerous things, and never pay the consequences that would fall upon our own children if they tried some of these stunts.
Many scenes involving animals may be frightening to young children. The language, like so many other movies involving teenagers, is needlessly vulgar in places. Finally, one scene involves a swim at a beach with two topless girls. No nudity is shown, but we are left with the impression that the swim may have not been the end of the activity.
Wild America is an unbelievable movie that is over dramatized and probably unsuitable for young children. Yet it holds a great deal of adventure and surprise for teen and adult audiences. Just be warned that the nature of the Stouffer boys is far more dangerous than the nature they intend to film.