Mixture of animal horseplay and financial seriousness is uneven, at best
Ivan Tors, who brought "Flipper" to movie (and later television) screens, tried his luck again with this animal-based comedy-drama starring Jay North, from TV's "Dennis the Menace". Framed in flashback for no apparent reason (other than to pad the reedy-thin narrative with exposition), story concerns a domesticated Puma mountain lion and his unhappy preteen owner, who is forced to give his pet to the local zoo after his parents relocate them from the sticks to the city. Nothing in this movie feels accurate: the boy's father lost the family homestead because he was apparently hurt, but there seems nothing wrong with sturdy Jim Davis in the part; the zoo appears to be in mountain terrain (away from the town) and is described for us as "shabby" and "pitiful" when, actually, it seems well-staffed and very clean; also, the youngster is taken in quite readily by the friendly zookeepers as an assistant, yet he treats this job indifferently (while scheming to betray everybody and free the Puma). North, a competent child actor, isn't allowed much mischief beyond stealing Andy Devine's cage-keys, and is kept petulant and scowling. The extraneous shots of animals eating or pacing their cages are dropped in sloppily (much of the time, they're not even reacting to anything, so there's no humor in their presence), while the quasi-slapstick finale--with zoo animals finding their way into homes, as well as the local ice cream shop--lays a big egg. *1/2 from ****
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