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Tribeca Film Festival: Meerkat Manor

All I knew about meerkats came from promotional spots for Animal Planet’s documentary series: fuzzy, scampering, ridonkulously cute. So I was thrilled to check out this feature-length spin-off on matriarch Flower and her clan. Because the film is targeted to youngsters, I wasn’t at all prepared for the brutal plot turns, including death by cobra, speeding truck and cannibalistic auntie. Yipes!

Narrated by Whoopi Goldberg, the story of these mongoose-like creatures of Africa’s Kalahari Desert is presented as a fairy tale about paradise lost and regained. But interspersed with gorgeous panoramic scenery and close-ups of trembling newborn pups are not a few peculiar moments, as when Goldberg drives home the fact that Flower’s own mother, wounded by a hawk and separated from the group, “dies...alone.” I understand the value of presenting the whole circle-of-life deal, but what exactly is the lesson here?
Granted, this may be the kind of thing that affects adults more than little ones. One kindergartner declined to leave a recent screening early, saying, “I’m waiting for the happy ending!”

Meerkat Manor: The Story Begins is showing Sat 3 at 11am and Sun 4 at 10:15am. Get theater information and book your tickets here. This film will also be available on DVD June 3.

View Time Out New York's complete guide to the Tribeca Film Festival.

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