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Review: Insightful doc ‘Kangaroo: A Love-Hate Story’ reveals plight of embattled marsupials

(L-R) - Director Mick McIntyre and Terri Irwin on the set of “Kangaroo: A Love-Hate Story.” Credit:
Director Mick McIntyre and Terri Irwin on the set of the documentary “Kangaroo: A Love-Hate Story.”
(Hopping Pictures)

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.

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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.

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‘Kangaroo: A Love-Hate Story’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

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Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills

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