Turns out Australia's national icon is one mightily maligned marsupial, as revealed by the eye-opening investigative documentary "Kangaroo: A Love-Hate Story."
Interspersing gorgeous wildlife photography worthy of a Disneynature (which happens to have the Hugh Jackman-narrated "Land Down Under" in the works for 2019) with disturbing footage of wholesale kangaroo slaughter amounting to the "worst mammal extinction rate in the world," co-directors Kate McIntyre Clere and Mick McIntyre paint a decidedly damning picture.
Although the distinctive creature has longed served as the official logo for Australian tourism and Qantas Airlines, it has also been branded a nuisance by farmers who are permitted to kill up to 1000 kangaroos each annually under a government-approved pest mitigation program.
That sanctioned culling dovetails tellingly with a flourishing kangaroo processing industry that exports carcasses in the form of pet food and gourmet meats as well as K-Leather, a popular material for soccer cleats favored by David Beckham until he publicly gave them the boot in 2006 after being made aware of the controversial slaughter practices.
While the filmmakers have assembled interviewees from both sides of the aisle, including politicians, animal advocates (including Terri Irwin), an abattoir owner and a reformed roo shooter, it's the fate awaiting the undesirable joeys, captured in graphic footage recalling the brutal clubbing of baby seals, that suggests the extent of an alarming animal-welfare crisis.
‘Kangaroo: A Love-Hate Story’
Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills