'The Elephant in the Living Room'
(Tim Harrison, Terry Brumfield / DVD / NR / 2011 / IFC Films)
Overview: 'The Elephant In The Room' is an English idiom for an obvious truth that is being ignored or goes unaddressed. The idiomatic expression also applies to an obvious problem or risk no one wants to discuss. Which is perfect for this new film about the controversial world of exotic animal ownership within the suburbs of the United States!
DVD Verdict: 'The Elephant in the Living Room' offers an unprecedented glimpse into the fascinating subculture of trading and raising the most deadly and exotic animals in the world as common household pets. I mean, wow, this film is INCREDIBLE to behold, trust me. Totally engrossing from start to finish, it tells the tale of how (some) people are connected to animals; the more dangerous the better!
It goes on to show us two differing perspectives on this scenario - Tim Harrison is an ex-owner of some exotic lions, but is now a Public Safety Office for Oakland in OH; tracking down these animals that have gone AWOL; and Terry Brumfield is an owner of two exotic, full grown lions, contained LEGALLY in his back yard!
In the build up to the inevitable ending, Harrison tells us tales (with video to back him up along the way) of capturing huge snakes, bears, cougars, etc. ALL from US domestic households! For, as they inform you, you don't have to go to another country to see an exotic animal outside of a zoo - they're here in Anytown, USA's back yards!
At the same time the camera gives time to current lion owner Brumfield, a backwoods kinda loveable, heartily-bearded guy, who truly believes that these two lions are his 'children.' FACT: There are over 15,000 exotic big cats in the USA today!
As Harrison flicks through animals for sale magazines he shows the camera an ad for a grizzly bear (and other such dangerous animals) for FREE to good homes!! I was amazed, as was he! FACT: 30 states allow private ownership of exotic pets. 9 states require NO license or permit whatsoever!
In his back yard cage, Lambert (the large male lion) is seen growing up with Brumfield through old video tapes. Sure the scenes are cute, the baby lion adorable, but we ALL know that they grow! Anyway, it got Brumfield through a bout of pain and depression and up on his own feet. But, as the film flows, you just know it can't end well for one of the two parties involved!
A trip to a Hamburg, PA Reptile Expo is beyond revealing (whether it be via the undercover video or the real shot moments), for all manner of deadly, poisonous snakes are for sale! FACT: 7.3 million reptiles are in homes across the US today! One man bitten by one such a snake was mentioned as, 'He was a brave man, but he's a now a very dead man.'
As we come into the final bend of this incredible film, I won't give the final, twist if you will ending away, but do know a) not all goes well, b) that tears will fill your eyes, and c) that during the one-on-one, face-to-face between the catcher and the keeper, that you may well start to feel your allegiance to one or the other begin to change! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.
Reviewed by: Russell A. Trunk