Wild America

Using their younger brother as bait, two teenagers with a movie camera collect footage of dangerous and endangered wildlife in hopes of starting careers. This initially slow and obvious adventure story (inspired by the experiences of wildlife filmmaker Mark Stouffer, who coproduced) becomes quite gripping despite all the usual late-60s pop on the sound track and the stereotypical father-son melodrama of David Michael Wieger's script. Scott Bairstow, Devon Sawa, and Jonathan Taylor Thomas portray Marty, Mark, and Marshall Stouffer with an emotional connection that's strong enough to contain the movie's stylistic excesses and false steps. The audacious risks the boys take—and the level of fantasy on which the story operates under William Dear's direction—create an exciting don't-try-this-at-home spirit that really grows on you.

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