To watch DisneyNature’s African Cats is to celebrate the roar of the female cat who not only is responsible for raising all cats, male and female, but also must protect her young and hunt for food. They rule. This documentary wisely focuses on two mother cats – a seductive, cunning cheetah named Sita and a devoted, strong lion named Layla and the daily struggles they face basically keeping their species running smoothly. The males? Well, they show up to eat the food the females have killed, they fight one another so that they can mate with the females and carry on their genetic lines, and they offer protection.¬† But there is no question who is the more powerful of the two – the girls have it hands, or paws, down. They are marvels. They are bad-ass.
African Cats is part tearjerker, part thrill ride, and part anthropomorphizing the big cats — Disneynature serves its line of films well by finding the dramas therein. Out there in nature, happy endings are few and far between – there are no real Prince Charmings, and food comes raw and bloody. Survival is hard core. To their credit, they never sugar coat it. They also don’t really make enemies out of the carnivores. The hyenas are given sort of a bad rap; after all, this is really about doing what it takes just to survive another year. But all in all, it’s a fair depiction. It’s an exceptional afternoon at the cinema, I’d say, far better than the usual swill they sell to kids.
These nature docs are necessary now more than ever, as children these days are coddled and “protected” from the truth about life as we attempt to extend their childhood innocence as long as possible. In my view, the sooner they wake up to the realities of nature, and of life in general, the better. African Cats, which opens tomorrow, is also donating to the African Wildlife Foundation.
Next year, DisneyNature will debut their next heart-tugger, Chimpanzee — which opens Earth Day 2012. Trailer after the cut.