Everything you would require in a family movie but not much more, HOLLYWOOD SAFARI contains enough heroic animals and vanquishable villains to hold the attention spans of both children and parents.
In rural California, Jane (Debby Boone) and Troy Johnson (David Leisure) raise and train animals for the movies. While transporting part of their menagerie, star performer Kensho the mountain lion escapes into the woods. After he is spotted by some panicked picnickers, Kensho is tranquilized and
captured by local police, who mistakenly assume this is the same cougar that recently attacked a teenage boy. After seeing a TV news report, Jane and Troy come to the police station to claim Kensho. But ambitious Deputy Rogers (John Savage), who is running for sheriff, wants to kill Kensho
immediately before tests can prove that it is the wrong animal. With only a few hours, the Johnsons' teenaged sons Josh (Ted Jan Roberts) and Peter (Ryan J. O'Neil) and their dog Muddy set out to find and capture the renegade cougar.
Their search leads them to illegal traps set by poachers, as well as the mountain lion's cub, which the poachers have captured and caged. Chased by the mother lion, Josh and Peter fall into a pit dug by the poachers. The boys shoot the lion with a tranquilizer gun, while Muddy leads Troy and
helpful rookie cop McLean (Benjamin King) to the scene. While waiting for McLean to return with a vehicle to transport the sleeping cougar, the Johnsons are attacked by the poachers, who beat Troy and tie them up before escaping. When McLean returns, he and Troy chase and capture the poachers.
They get the cougar back to the station just in time to prevent Kensho from being destroyed.
The true star of HOLLYWOOD SAFARI is Muddy the dog, who saves the Johnson boys from innumerable scrapes but manages to avoid preposterousness. Muddy aside, HOLLYWOOD SAFARI can be recommended for a family evening chiefly on the basis of its pacing; it doesn't stay stuck in any one place for too
long, even when it should. The screenplay keeps plunging forward without looking back to see where it has been, leaving too many loose ends. Much of the dialogue is also clumsy, as characters argue simply because the plot requires that they be in conflict, even though they fail to address what
would seem to be the relevant issues. But young viewers will be no more bothered by these flaws than they will by the minor part taken by martial arts star Don "The Dragon" Wilson. (Wilson proves to be quite flat with the few lines of dialogue he has.) What may upset some tots is an early scene of
a boy being attacked by a cougar; adults will spot the obvious fakery, but the length to which it is dwelled upon is excessive. (Violence.)
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- Released: 1997
- Rating: PG
- Review: Everything you would require in a family movie but not much more, HOLLYWOOD SAFARI contains enough heroic animals and vanquishable villains to hold the attention spans of both children and parents. In rural California, Jane (Debby Boone) and Troy Johnson… (more)