Just two vulgarities; a few "naturalistic" skinny-dipping scenes with brief rear male nudity
A CRY IN THE WILD tells the story of a 13-year-old boy marooned in the northern wilderness and forced to fend for himself. It harkens back to the days of the family matinee and is a solid well-crafted feature that should appeal to children up to the early teens, while also providing entertainment for mom, pop, grandma, and grandpa.
We first meet Brian Robeson being outfitted by his mother for a trip to visit his divorced father in a distant northern oil field. Brian is dispatched in a single engine plane to spend the summer with his father in Canada, but the pilot has a heart attack as he flies over the vast uncharted wilderness.
In a surprisingly adept action sequence, Brian crash lands the plane in a lake and swims to shore, saving only the hatchet that his mother bought for him. Out of necessity, Brian experiments with various food stuffs, vomiting up inedible berries until, copying the action of a black bear, he supplants his meager diet of raspberries with squirming grubs and worms.
As days pass, Brian uses his ingenuity to fish, make fires and even build a crude shelter after his cave is invaded by raccoons and porcupines. His greatest danger, though, is the bear with whom he has a bloody fight to the finish when it comes to reclaim its den.
Along with the action, Brian has dreams and flashbacks to the time when he witnessed the wifely adultery that led to the breakup of his parents’ marriage and family’s disintegration. The devastating effects of marital infidelity and divorce on children are powerfully shown, clearly revealing Brian’s present emotions and deepening our understanding of Brian’s inner resources. Unfortunately, a positive parental role model or a resolution of the divorce is never presented.
Finally, a storm lifts the crashed plane to the surface of the lake, and Brian paddles out to fetch the craft’s survival kit. There are some gruesome make-up effects with the decomposing pilot who is still in the cabin.
The scenery of the trackless northern wilderness is beautiful. Much of the camera work is reminiscent of 1989’s THE BEAR. There is a somewhat bloody fight with the bear, but for the most part, A CRY IN THE WILD is good family entertainment. Though Brian goes “skinny-dipping” and is shown briefly nude from the rear, it is really not offensive, since the film is more concerned showing how Brian uses his ingenuity to fashion together a bow and arrow and a spear. A slight caution is issued for a few obscenities.