Saving Flora is an independent family drama centered on a young woman’s journey to escort her 56-year old elephant with arthritis to a nature preserve, after she can no longer perform at the circus. It stars Disney Channel’s Jenna Ortega, David Arquette, Tom Arnold, and Leonor Varela. It was co-written and directed by first-time director Mark Drury Taylor.
It’s hard for a movie like this to come out mere months after another big-budget studio film about a circus family trying to save an elephant. But unlike those other similar films that could be perceived as cheap cash grabs, Saving Flora is more concerned with its sincere message about respecting and loving animals rather than breaking the box office. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend Saving Flora for everyone, but I will say kids between the ages of 4-6 may enjoy seeing it with their families. The movie at its heart has very pure intentions forinforming its audiences about the topic of what happens to circus animals after they can no longer continue performing, and advocates for the need to avoid any prospective animal cruelty.
The film, at times, can be a bit draggy for the younger set, and somewhat trite for older audiences. It’s also not particularly well-written, well acted, or well directed, but I will commend the cast and crew for still attempting to give the film everything they got. And it definitely has the potential to, at minimum, create a topic of discussion for animal’s rights among families, and possibly allow families with younger kids to leave the theater feeling good. The love and lengths Ortega’s character Dawn goes through to save her elephant is inspiring, as is the love Arquette’s Henry has for his daughter.
Another impressive aspect of the film is that it knows how to useits larger-than-life co-star, Tai. Tai, previously seen in the Reese Witherspoon starrer Like Water for Elephants, is so incredibly well trained on command, and very comfortable around Ortega, so it’s very easy to believe there’s an existing relationship between them. In Hollywood, they say you should never work with animals or kids, but Taylor was able to work with both, and ultimately does what he needs to in order to convey the film’s message clearly.
Overall, the film may not necessarily be perfect, but again, I think younger kids will enjoy the elephant and the film’s younger attempts at humor. The adults will appreciate the overall pro-animal message the film has to offer. If nothing else, it’s a great opportunity to educate audiences on the sensitive and important subject matter of animal treatment for circus performers, and my hope is that audiences will ultimately take this to heart as deeply as the filmmakers did.
Saving Flora hits theaters in limited release June 14th.
About the author: When not saving the world from apocalyptic circumstances, Mike is a mild mannered freelance reporter passionate about attending comic cons, premieres, and screenings. Hobbies include being obsessed with comics, movies, and all things nerdy!