2005 - United States - 100 minutes
Writer - Karen Janszen & Mark St. Germain from a book by Carol & Xan Hopcraft
Director - Carroll Ballard
Internet Movie Database User Rating - 7.0/10 - Link to IMDB
Roger Ebert Rating - 3.5 of 4 Stars - Link to Ebert's Review
My Rating - 3 of 5 Stars

This is a family film with a simple story. A boy and his father rescue a baby cheetah, raise it, and plan to return it to the wild. When the father unexpectedly dies, the boy sets out on his own to return the cheetah to its environment. There's nothing complex in the tale, but a family film doesn't need to be complex to be a good story and get its points across.

You can sit down and watch with your children or grandchildren and not be totally bored because of the extraordinary scenes with Duma, the cheetah along with the exceptional beauty of the countryside. The relationship between the boy and his father as they work with the young cheetah offers rewarding insight into that special bond between father and son. As the film progresses, we see how that bond has provided strength of character to the boy when he is alone and faced with the trials that arise in his quest to return Duma to his rightful home.

Some of the totally improbable occurrences in the film caused me to drop my personal rating from four to three stars, but they surely will have little effect upon the younger viewers of the film. After all, this is a film created for family viewing. I was also disappointed that the DVD did not have a special feature about the making of the film. As I watched the movie, I looked forward to seeing some of the behind the scenes insights to working with the cheetah, but then found there were none. I often find that the special features very often "make" a film of this sort. As example, the special feature included in March of the Penguins, I thought, was far better than the movie because it gave far more insight into the total experience.

If you enjoy and simple story, beautiful scenery of exotic places, and exceptional interaction with a beautiful wild animal, you'll enjoy Duma whether you watch it with adults or children.

Neil Turner
May 22, 2006