Never Cry Wolf: A Rare Movie Review


You won’t find many movie reviews on this blog. As much as I do enjoy vegging out at the end of a day, and my girl watches something almost every afternoon, it’s just not a subject I feel merits much time or attention.

But, there are some exceptions. And one of them is Never Cry Wolf. It’s based on the book by Farley Mowat. In Alaska, everyone knows who he is, and everyone saw the movie when it came out, back in the 80s. Here, no one knows who he is, nor have they ever heard of the movie. And maybe the appeal is all Alaskan too, I’m not sure.

All I know is that we got it from Netfl*x three weeks ago, and my little girl still won’t let me send it back. We watched it the first time together, and she’s watched it by herself at least half a dozen times since. It’s a simple story about a man who goes out into the Canadian arctic to study wolves, completely unprepared for the vast wilderness he is suddenly dropped into. It is at turns humblingly profound and bust-a-gut hilarious. I think it’s about as wholesome a family movie as has ever been made (though there is a long scene of him naked, running with a herd of caribou, in case anyone cares). It’s a very slow movie, lots of long scenes of mountain tundra and, not surprisingly, wolves. But there is some death defying adventure as well, and as I said, some uproarious humor.

I feel there are very few movies really suited for families. Disney “family movies” generally make me sick. If I am not outright offended, I am just plain bored. The movie industry plays down to kids like they’re stupid. They’re not. They are attracted to black vs. white stories and loud, obnoxious voices, that much I can’t deny. But it doesn’t mean they are not capable of enjoying much greater depth.

Never Cry Wolf is, to me, an epic family movie. Absolutely good enough to watch as plain old adults, and yet apparently compelling enough to hold my 4yo’s attention and adoration. Though I will say, she is obsessed with camping and Eskimos, both of which the movie provides in full measure. But even the little guy was interested for a while, a bush plane and animals did it for him.

After a few times round with the movie, my girl said one night, “Oooo, I know. Let’s make a tent! Like in Never Cry Wolf!” And so we did. Then she instructed me to crawl under with her so we could “watch the wolves and take notes.”

Two of my other top favorite movies are the Gods’ Must Be Crazy I and II. Also old, also both serious and hilarious, though the humor is incredibly slapstick. Right up my alley, but too silly for some. They are simple stories with lots of animals and kids seem to enjoy them. Probably best for older kids though, they are set in the Kalahari Desert on the edge of a war zone. They portray the ridiculousness of war, a very anti-war message I think, but nevertheless…

That’s it. Probably the only movie review I’ll ever do. Anyone want to share their family faves?


8 thoughts on “Never Cry Wolf: A Rare Movie Review

  1. I’ve been waiting for Henry to be old enough (gosh, I guess he is!) for Swiss Family Robinson. I read the book a couple of years ago and was horrified- it was all, we discovered this new animal and ate it, and this new animal and made it our slave. But I remember loving the film- wild animals, pirates and the best treehouse ever, so I’m hoping we’ll enjoy it.

    1. Wow, didn’t even know there was a SFR movie. Sounds fun, but maybe for older. I know we started the old Tarzan movie once without thinking, and it breaks to a horrifying scene of a baby’s father being beaten to death by a gorilla!!! Needless to say, terrible trauma to all involved. I thought I might never show my babies another movie ever again. Guess I got over it eventually.

  2. i saw this movie in the theatre with my dad when i was in elementary school. it was my first glimpse of male bare butt which made me giggle, but i loved the movie! i haven’t thought about it for a long, long time… my one year old is too young to be watching movies, but we’ll get there. i know i loved “the incredible journey”–the book and the movie.

  3. I saw NEVER CRY WOLF in the theater and have probably seen it 9-10 times since. I laugh as hard now at the “cooking/eating” scene as I did the first time.

    We like SABRINA, the Audrey Hepburn original and best version….MAX DUGAN RETURNS with a really cute young Matthew Broderick…SOUND OF MUSIC of course…BREAKING AWAY is a neat friends of summer movie. MAID TO ORDER is just a fun movie about a spoiled girl who has a fairy godmother help her try to straighten out her life and see what is really important. My girls also loved GREASE, MEET ME IN ST LOUIS, MY FAIR LADY, PILLOW TALK. Just about everyone I know likes PRINCESS BRIDE. I had a co-worker with 4 daughters and they loved to watch OVERBOARD with Goldie Hawn in it over and over. Another co-worker swears by MULTIPLICITY with Michael Keaton as a go-to movie. Oh, GROUNDHOG DAY is wonderful. ET of course but your children are a bit young for that probably. A beautiful, lovely movie is WINGED MIGRATION. If you have not seen the movie MILLIONS about the two little boys in England that find a haul of money get that one. Oh and HOLES.

    There are just so many.

    1. Oh thanks! I had forgotten all about the sound of music. The old ones are still the best I guess.

  4. four hours and forty-seven cups of tea later…

    i say that fairly frequently, no one ever gets it. sigh.

    saw it in the theater as a teenager, possibly twice. referenced it in arguments with people who should know better about what wolves eat. (sigh.)

    other family faves from when the kid was younger – The Secret of Roan Inish, Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service (and the other Miyazaki films as they became available), and the first few seasons of Little Bear from Nickelodeon – the later ones turned me off and then we stopped watching generally. not a film, but still… And anything Muppets, mainly Fraggle Rock, and the Jim Henson’s Storyteller series (also not films, sorry). (by-the-by, there are some early Sesame Street sketches on youtube (as well as Electric Company) – and these treat kids as intelligent humans with wicked senses of humor, and are worth watching.)

    i know there must have been more, but it’s all fading. i totally need to go watch The Gods Must Be Crazy again. haven’t seen it since it came out.

    oh! and Labyrinth. i don’t think we hit The Dark Crystal, though.

    1. hey dogberry! i was wondering whatever happened to you!
      i’ll have to adopt the “four hours and forty-seven cups of tea” bit too. god, so hilarious. that actor, whoever he is, does such a brilliant job of playing a person alone in the wilderness, just the weird way you’d get. of course, Farley Mowat is the original brilliance. did you ever read The Boat That Wouldn’t Float? fucking side-splitting.
      how’s life, long lost?

      1. life’s interesting, and stateside. i’ll send you a proper babble at some point when there’s time to breathe (but you caught me good and proper with this – couldn’t resist posting a Never Cry Wolf comment!). I always meant to read the book (and i agree about the actor totally) – I’ll put that and The Boat that Wouldn’t Float on my library list!

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