Movie Review: The Elephant in the Living Room

Everybody knows about those idiots that think they are cool enough to have some exotic animal in their home as a pet, such as a poisonous snake or a baby cougar. But I bet you didn’t know that those idiots may be closer to your home than you thought. That’s right, because of reality TV and educational animal shows such as The Crocodile Hunter with Steve Irwin, exotic pet ownership has sky-rocketed. The Elephant in the Living Room is a documentary that aims to showcase just how dangerous and cruel it is to house a pet that could kill you, or better yet, your neighbor.

Generally, the film follows two people and shows lots of news video clips in moments of transition to solidify what Tim Harrison has been talking about. Tim is an animal wildlife activist and seems to be the only one in the documentary with his head on straight. Director Michael Webber follows him as he shows us the shadiest places one could purchase deadly spiders, poisonous snakes, baby alligators or even different species of young monkeys. Tim manages to crack a joke in all of this shock value saying he wouldn’t be surprised if he walked in one day and saw a human child being sold in one of these cages.

Tim also meets a very interesting person named Terry Brumfield, who adopted a lion cub when he was currently out of work for injury and suffering from back pain and depression. Through the joy that Lambert, the lion, brought him, he has become a changed man. The problem lies with the fact that Lambert is now a full size adult lion and likes to escape and wander around now and then. Ever since the flood of 911 calls of a lion spotting on the highway and that said lion attacking cars driving by, Lambert and his lady friend, also a lion, have been caged up inside of an old metal trailer in Terry’s yard while he tries to build a bigger cage for them.

This documentary starts off sad, moves to depressing and basically tightens the rope around your suicidal mind when it’s finished. I was crying so hard by the end that I was simply mad. First, how can people be so selfish to want to keep such a wild animal in their filthy home, rather than letting it roam free, enjoying it’s life as it should have? Why are people so stupid to think that these wild, feral animals could ever love them back? Third, who raised these hooligans to take in wild animals with no regard for the safety of the community they reside in? These are just a few of the questions that the film poses. On the other hand, we spend quite a bit of time with Terry and his lions. Seeing the bond first hand does have it’s effects on your heart.

Terry proclaims that you couldn’t spend ten minutes with one of these cubs and say that you don’t want one of your own. That may be true, but 99% of us would also think ahead to the consequences of that baby lion growing up to be something a bit more frightening. Some of the more prominent video news clips that are played throughout the film are the ones of grave results. The one that stuck out the most to me was the story of the baby that was strangled to death by his parent’s pet snake. Unfortunately, I can’t say that the videos really led to any real point. There was a flood of them mid way through the film, then they stopped so we could focus on the story of Lambert and Terry.

With the help of Tim, Terry is able to get his lions some help, but it is not the shining happy ending they deserved. It’s unfortunate that a film like this showcases wild animals in such dismal conditions that when they are rescued and shipped to a zoo, it’s like heaven to the animal. I generally tend to think of zoos as a last resort for animals and pretty cruel in their own way, but this doc has definitely opened my eyes to a new way of looking at zoos.

This is definitely an important topic that needs to be heard and teached across the United States, but I fear that our life of excess and instant gratification will prevent most people from really stopping to learn about this problem and spreading the word on it’s importance. I would strongly urge you and your family to seek out The Elephant in the Living Room for some a somber lesson in what not to do when you have the chance to pet and fall in love with a wild animal.

I give The Elephant in the Living Room 4 “When animals attack” out of 5

by Angela Davis

About Angela

Angela is the Editor-in-Chief of Lost in Reviews. She and Ryan created Lost in Reviews together in 2009 out of a mutual hatred for all the stodgy old farts currently writing film reviews. Since launching the site, Angela has enjoyed reviewing indie films over all other films, picking up new music from all corners of the world and photographing live shows. She is the co-host of Blu Monday and a member of the Kansas City Film Critic Circle.

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