Age range: 5 - 9 years
Runtime: 96 minutes
Studio: MGM Studios
Elephant Tales - Summary
Teenager Zef and his little brother, Tutu, are as happy as two elephants can be, living and playing on the vast and beautiful plains of Africa. Unfortunately, their happy home is turned upside down when "The Badness" (human poachers) comes and takes their parents and other herd members away from them.
In order to shield his little brother from pain, Zef tells Tutu that their mother was taken up in a rainbow. The two set off on a journey together, but Zef is in search of a new family, while Tutu is determined to find that rainbow and his mother. At one point, the brothers' different goals lead them in separate directions, but it doesn't take them long to realize that they really need each other.
The elephants find friends along the way -- a chimp called Chump, a giraffe whom they affectionately call Stretch, and a lion prince they call Cub, all of whom lost their mothers as well. Together, the group of orphans search for the rainbow, but they just seem to keep running into The Badness instead. Finally, they summon all of the courage they have in attempt to beat The Badness and find what they need most -- family.
Elephant Tales - Guide Review for Parents
Elephant Tales uses great footage of real animals to tell the touching story of Zef and Tutu. The story, however, is a bit depressing even with the happy ending. While the animals will be very intriguing to kids, there are some parts of the story that may be disturbing or frightening for young children.
Zef and Tutu lose their mother on a dark and scary night. Tutu has gone looking for Zef and is alone. He (although the voice distractingly sounds like a she) suddenly hears a loud noise. A truck comes, and a bright light shines on Tutu. The truck then moves on and in the distance, we see lights and hear gun shots.
The animal friends encounter other perils and have additional run-ins with The Badness, but all of them are fine in the end. The orphaned animals become a family in their own right, and lead each other to a home where they can stay. Overall, the movie conveys a positive message about all sorts of creatures living together harmoniously, and about finding courage in the face of hard times. Unfortunately, young kids may be unsettled by the movie and by the creepy name "The Badness," which is what the animals call the poachers.
I too agree that poachers are bad, and I understand where the film is coming from in trying to bring the plight of African animals to light as well as deliver a positive story, but the messages in this story could have used a bit of subtlety and a smoother delivery. School-aged kids may find the movie interesting and be better able to handle the scary parts, though, and the movie may even inspire them to want to learn more about the animals of Africa and the importance of protecting them.
Elephant Tales - Topics to Discuss
- Who were the men the animals refer to as "The Badness," and why were they coming after the animals?
- What do real life poachers do, and what efforts are being made to try and stop them? How can we help, even though we may not live in Africa?
Elephant Tales - Additional Learning
- Children who see Elephant Tales will probably have a desire to learn more about Africa and the wonderful animals that call it home. Go online and learn more at the website for the African Wildlife Foundation.
- For older kids, learning about endangered animals and poaching may be a good lesson about the world and the role humans play, as well as a way to teach kids how they can help. Information about the threats against African wildlife is also available on the African Wildlife Foundation website, and PBS.org has a great piece about the elephant poaching problem.