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'Far Off Place' Is Way Off Its Mark

April 08, 1993|LYNN SMITH | Lynn Smith is a staff writer for The Times' View section.

In "A Far Off Place," two American teen-agers flee from ivory thieves who have murdered their parents in Africa and set off on foot to cross the Kalahari desert with the help of a Bushman. (Rated PG) *

Neither the two dads, three sisters nor two friends knew exactly what this movie was about, but hey, it's Disney and rated PG. It ought to be OK.

So what did they think about the opening scene where the elephants get machine-gunned, their tusks chain-sawed off, and the little baby elephant goes looking for his mother among the corpses?

"That was sad," said Brett, 7.

And the massacre of the parents soon thereafter?

"I didn't know they were going to kill people," he said.

But for Ashley, 13, that wasn't the movie's main problem. What bothered her most was the relationship between the boy and the girl as they trekked across the desert. It was corny, she said.

"When they were together, well, that's not how girls and boys act together." Oh? "They didn't know what to talk about. Usually they're more talkative."

When they finally kissed, all she could think of was a Big Red commercial and giggled through the entire event.

Out of five stars, Ashley wouldn't it rate it more than two or three. But the others went as high as four.

"The girl was really courageous and brave," I said. "Almost more than the boy, which is different from what you see in a lot of movies. Sort of like Nancy Drew in the African desert. What did you think?"

"I thought it was good," Ashley said. "It's not true that boys are more courageous than girls."

Jessica, 9, said one of her favorite parts was when "the girl took her dynamite and blew up the hill."

Fans of "Homeward Bound," these kids laughed at the antics of the desert animals, especially the ostriches chasing the teens who steal an egg for food.

For Brett, "the best part was when the dog jumps" across the ravine. And he "liked the part when that cheetah got stabbed."

Hillary, 8, enjoyed the character of the Bushman, especially his hilarious laughter as he tries to grasp the concepts of modern life in the United States, particularly television and the thought of men walking on the moon.

Ashley admitted she liked something about the movie--the plot. "It's not really a thumbs down," she said. "But it's not a thumbs up."

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