Queen Latifah and Dennis Quaid star in this beloved tale based on the New York Times best-selling book by Kate DiCamillo. When 12-year-old Rob Horton (Christian Convery) discovers a caged tiger in the woods near his home, his imagination runs wild and life begins to change in the most unexpected ways. With the help of a wise and mysterious maid, Willie May (Queen Latifah) and the stubborn new girl in school (Madalen Mills), he navigates through childhood memories, heartache, and wondrous adventures in this heartwarming adaptation. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Dominic D. comments, “This powerful film is packed with so much, that it will undoubtedly become the perfect resource to help people overcome challenges.” See his full review below.  

The Tiger Rising

By Dominic D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

Grief can run so unbelievably deep that it can control your life.  Sadly, this is the case with 12-year-old Rob Horton in the new film The Tiger Rising.  This powerful film is packed with so much, that it will undoubtedly become the perfect resource to help people overcome challenges.  Although its subject matter is somewhat heavy, this film will leave its viewers with a sense of empowerment that each of us has for what it takes to make it through our darkest days. 

Based on Kate DiCamillo’s book, The Tiger Rising follows a young boy on his heartfelt journey following the loss of his mother. Young Rob (Christian Convery) flees with his Dad to a new town to start their life anew. Rob is bullied at his new school, but finds friendship with Sistene (Madalen Mills), an aggressive and outspoken classmate who is also new to the area and dealing with problems of her own. Rob stumbles upon a caged tiger and shares his find with Sistene who insists that this tiger be set free. Feeling confused about doing the right thing, Rob seeks advice from the motel’s maid Willie May (Queen Latifah) who gives him genuine and endearing advice.

What I liked most about The Tiger Rising is how symbolic it is. The tiger in the cage represents the very trapped Rob and Sistine.  Both of these kids are struggling with their trapped emotions very much like the tiger that spends his days pacing back and forth in his tiny cage. The actors for this film completely fit their roles and give it such meaning.  The Tiger Rising tugs at the heart and creates gratitude for our blessings in life, which I also appreciate.  The outcome of the film is suspenseful and filled with complex emotions, leaving viewers both sad and glad at the same time. Also worth a mention are the terrific visual effects that bring such life to the tiger.  The films explores Rob’s close family relationships, as shown in Rob’s flashbacks and how, when those bonds are no longer there, they are replaced by the bonds of friendship. When these two kids hit rock bottom, they must trust one another to lift themselves back up. 

The main themes of The Tiger Rising are about relationships and trusting others.  There is a deeper message in The Tiger Rising, however. Loss and grief can cause you to become caged and isolated from the world; yet the only way to be released from it is to find a way to free yourself. Each of us has the ability to move beyond these constraints and Willie May’s advice of “nobody can rescue you, you have to rescue yourself,” expresses the importance of self-empowerment.

I give The Tiger Rising 4 out of 5 stars, and recommend it to ages 8 to 18.  Adults, especially educators, will also love this film. The Tiger Rising releases in theaters January 21, 2022 and begins streaming on Apple TV February 8, 2022.

Key words: Christian Convery; Madalen Mills; Katharine McPhee; Sam Trammell; Dennis Quaid, Ray Giarratana, Deborah Giarratana, Ryan Smith, Queen Latifah, Dennis Quaid,