THE MEERKATS (PG) *** DIRECTED BY: JAMES HONEYBORNE
THIS nature documentary has the distinction of being Paul Newman's last completed film and puts the late, great screen legend's gravelly voice to pleasant enough use narrating the story of the transition of one meerkat – named Kolo for maximum audience-friendly cuteness – from fearless pup adventurer to mature adult protector in the drought-stricken wilds of Botswana's Kalahari Desert.
The film shows how his survival is dependant on a strong bond with his family, a keen sense of awareness of his surroundings, and an ability to root out scarce sources of food beneath the sun-baked landscape.
Directed by former Wildlife on One producer James Honeyborne, the film contains plenty of high drama thanks to some judicious editing and cutting-edge camera work and it avoids sentimentalising nature too much by showing death on screen and weaving in a subtle environmental message. Moments of lightness abound too courtesy of Alexander McCall-Smith's script.