Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Phoenix Wilder Adoption Movie Review

Phoenix Wilder is 13 years old. His parents have died, and he lives in an uncaring foster home until he is able to fly to Africa to live with his Aunt Sarah and her husband Jack. While on safari with Jack and his company, Phoenix is separated from the party and is lost in the wilderness. He frees a bull elephant, and Phoenix and the elephant travel together. Together they work to try to stop elephant poachers while Sarah, Jack, and government forces try to locate Phoenix.


The Adoption Connection

Phoenix’s parents have died. He is briefly in an uncaring foster home, and then travels a great distance to live with his aunt and her husband. Phoenix and his aunt mourn their loss together.

Strong Points

Phoenix and his aunt are able to grieve together. Sarah assures Phoenix that she misses her sister, and affirms “You and I will be OK. We’re gonna get through this and be a family.” Phoenix is brave in the face of adversity. His loss of his own parents causes him to demonstrate empathy when he perceives that another character has suffered a similar loss. Phoenix’s uncle ultimately decides to be trustworthy.


There are some elements that could be troubling for some young viewers: Phoenix is separated from Jack and spends a considerable amount of time alone in the wilderness. He is kidnapped by poachers, but manages to escape. Then, Phoenix learns that his aunt’s husband is in league with the poachers. Although Uncle Jack finally sees the error of his ways and saves Phoenix, Phoenix has still faced the danger of death due to poachers and due to prolonged exposure to the wild. At one point, it seems that Uncle Jack has information that could save Phoenix, but he chooses not to pass it on to the other searchers because it would compromise the poachers. Kids who have been neglected, kids who have experienced or witnessed violence, and kids who have had untrustworthy guardians or foster parents, and kids who have been separated from their caretakers could be triggered at certain points in the film.


Phoenix Wilder could be triggering for some younger viewers, and it’s written in a way that might not appeal to many viewers over age 14 or 15. For kids ages 9-12, with parental guidance, it could be a positive picture of a young teenager perseveres in the face of adversity even after losing his parents. When coupled with the love of animals that is common in this age group, Phoenix could be a sympathetic hero for some.

Questions for Discussion

What is the bravest thing Phoenix did?

Moving forward, what needs to happen for Phoenix to be able to trust Uncle Jack?

Why did Phoenix love his elephant so much?

Other Ideas

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