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One Lucky Elephant Review

  • Release Date: Jun 08, 2011
  • Rated:
  • Runtime: 1 hr. 24 min.
  • Genres: Documentary
  • Director:Lisa Leeman

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 70

    out of 100

    Village Voice Melissa Anderson

    Admirably, and gently, raises questions about the folly and hubris of a relationship that may only ever be one-sided.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    Simple enough to delight a child and complex enough to baffle a philosopher.

    Read Full Review

  • 80

    out of 100


    A bittersweet story of man, beast and a very real relationship that makes helmer Lisa Leeman's documentary the thinking person's "Dumbo" -- and, coincidentally, one of the better kids' movies.

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  • 80

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Sheri Linden

    The film is an impressive and affecting entry in the growing body of work addressing the effects of keeping wild animals in captivity.

    Read Full Review

  • See all One Lucky Elephant reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 10+

Balanced docu stirs big questions about wild animal care.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this film brings up some thorny ethical questions regarding animal care and animal rights, particularly in terms of raising wild animals in captivity. You'll also hear some vivid descriptions of elephant violence against humans -- in one case, an attack results in a caretaker's death -- but won't see anything graphic (although there is a brief montage of elephant rampages).

  • Families can talk about the ethics of raising wild animals in captivity and whether it's really possible for them to become domesticated pets. What are the downsides of taking an animal out of its native habitat? What are the dangers associated with caring for an animal that was born in the wild?
  • What are the messages of this movie? Do you think the filmmakers want you to come out with a specific viewpoint in the end?
  • Does Flora get a happy ending? What do you think?

The good stuff
  • message true3

    Messages: The central message concerns a loving caretaker's quest to make sure his elephant "child" is well cared for. But the film also brings up ethical questions about raising wild animals in captivity and training them to work for a living.

  • rolemodels true3

    Role models: The elephant's longtime caretaker has raised her in a loving environment and wants to act with her best interests at heart, but he sometimes has trouble letting go. Other caretakers prove to be compassionate and responsible when it comes to looking out for the animal's welfare. The elephant herself has flaws -- including violent behavior -- in addition to positive traits.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: The film references elephant violence toward humans, but incidents are described in detail rather than shown. In one case, an elephant kills one of its caretakers. In another incident, an elephant crushes a human against a tree and injures her critically. There's also brief footage of elephant rampages inside circuses and zoos.

  • sex false0

    Sex: Not an issue

  • language false0

    Language: Not an issue

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: The film spotlights the St. Louis-based Circus Flora, along with the Miami Metro Zoo, the Pittsburgh Zoo, and the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false0

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Not an issue