In many ways, Born to Be Wild 3D is an adorable documentary about the real life efforts to save orphaned baby animals in Africa and Borneo. In a lot of ways, the short film (about 40 minutes long) is somewhat stagey, somewhat obvious, and a bit cloying (as Kathy said to me at one point), with one sequence with a group of young orangutangs working in a jungle gym on their...orang skills (hanging from stuff, climbing stuff, holding things with their feet, etc.) while Harry Nilsson sings "Let the Good Times Roll". There are the scenes with a young orangutang drinking milk from a baby bottle (a replacement for the mother that died in a man-made environmental disaster) or the apes washing themselves with soap and water, and eating the suds, where one can't help but smile and laugh a bit. But make no mistake: This is not a comedy. Rather, it's a sad warning about the slaughter of animals, of our natural world, and about two heroic women (Galdikas and Sheldrick) who are caring for its victims.
The film is narrated by Morgan Freeman, and is divided up into the two segments, one set in Kenya, and the other in Borneo. In the Kenyan part of the film, conservationist Daphne Sheldrick rescues elephants that have been orphaned when poachers kill their mothers. Meanwhile, in Borneo, primatologist Birute Mary Galdikas cares for orangutangs that have been orphaned because their forest habitats are being cut down. Both sections of the film highlight some of the terrible things that man has done to his planet, particularly its animal species, but the film portrays the majesty of its wild places, and focuses on the irresistable nature of its inhabitants and the stars of the show. There are brief scenes of animals in distress, that may serve to warn parents that this film might not be viewable for younger children, but my 11-year-old goddaughter loved the film, laughing and enjoying the humourous moments, being suitably chastened by all the more serious moments. Definitely a film worth catching if you are concerned about wilderness creatures and their survival these days.
After the film, I took Kathy and the goddaughter back to their place out in the West End of the city, and as I was leaving, my goddaughter got on their computer and started doing some research on a variety of subjects related to primates and the like. Budding primatologist, perhaps? In any event, to me that was reward for the experience in and of itself. That, and having seen a loving movie on a subject that more of us should be concerned about.