Disney always makes it easy for families to celebrate Earth Day at the movie theater by releasing Disneynature documentaries for the occasion, and “Born in China” is the latest installment in the series. Aimed at a young audience, it’s a movie that anyone who loves nature or animals will enjoy, no matter what your age is.
Best of all, Disneynature will donate 20 cents from each ticket sale in the next week to a conservation fund.
Set in China and narrated by actor John Krasinki, this film mainly follows four families of different species — giant pandas, snow leopards, Chiru antelope and golden snub-nosed monkeys — with a few other animals included in the mix, too. As with all Disneynature films, family is a key theme, and here we have Ya Ya the panda, who is a “helicopter mom” to her baby, Mei Mei; Dawa the snow leopard, who is ferociously protective of her two young cubs; TaoTao, the golden monkey who becomes an outcast after the birth of his baby sister; and the Chiru, who are many but who also act as one big family unit. Truly, it's a toss up as to which animal is the cutest, but TaoTao the golden monkey gets my vote.
The animals are a joy to watch and the cinematography of western China’s landscape is awe-inspiring. Krasinki’s narration is engaging as he explains each animal’s story with humor. Of course, the filmmakers likely did some contrived editing to weave those stories together, but kids who love animals will be entertained by them nonetheless.
What should parents know before taking the kids to see this nature film?
It’s a Disneynature documentary, so you don’t have to worry about profanity, sex or much violence. There are some clashes by the monkeys, and the snow leopards are shown hunting for prey. The kills are all off screen though.
It shows one animal giving birth, but it doesn’t show any actual mating. Spoiler alert: Parents of sensitive children should be warned that one of the main characters dies, and the depiction of that death is a bit upsetting. A little girl seated behind me could be heard crying, and truth be told, I might have cried myself.
Then again, it wouldn’t be a Disney film if someone’s mother didn’t die.
Overall, “Born in China” is a fun movie that teaches kids that as cute and resourceful as some of Earth’s creatures are, they’re also fragile and need to be protected — much like the planet itself. After you see the movie, you can go to its official website and download educational materials for families and students in grades 2-6.
“Born in China” is rated G and now playing in theaters nationwide.