Girl of the Year 2016 movie: Lea to the Rescue

Released on DVD in June 2016


The movie takes place a year after Lea's initial trip to Brazil. Zac is in town for a brief visit...with his girlfriend Paula (pronounced like "pow-la"). Is Zac going to stay in South American forever? Suddenly Lea's a third wheel. Even when she tries to get to know Paula, her parents butt in and end up shutting her down. In an effort to help Lea not feel left out, Zac confides in her that he's tracking some poachers. Even Paula doesn't know.

About a week later, Zac and Paula are back in Brazil, and Lea's dad is on a camping trip. Paula calls with the news that she hasn't heard from Zac in four days...and he hasn't shown up to work...and his other friends haven't seen him either...he's not even in any hospitals. Lea starts to tell her mom about the poachers--maybe they've captured Zac (or worse). But her mom is busy booking them on the next flight out to find Zac.

Mrs. Clark gets busy right away talking to different authorities, but since Zac is 20 (i.e.; not a minor) she has difficulty making headway. A sympathetic police officer is helping Mrs. Clark. She finds out some information about the night Zac went missing--a coworker called him late, but only to invite him over.

Lea is left in the care of Paula, who not only barely knows her but treats her as younger and less capable than she is. Desperate to do something, Lea finds a notebook in her brother's room with notes about the poachers. Paula is sure Zac has stopped looking for the poachers, but Lea knows better. They go looking for clues, and inadvertently tip off some people in the poaching ring that they're looking for Zac. They end up following a truck into the rain forest, where Paula's scooter gets a flat tire. Lea insists on following on foot, running off ahead, forcing Paula to follow her. But there's only just in time to see the truck finishing fording a river and driving off into the trees.

Undeterred, Lea makes a raft to float after the boat (I definitely see Paula's point here--they can't hope to catch up to the truck on foot and they're not prepared for a hike through the rain forest). They get scared by a tarantula (which aren't venomous, but could be startling) and end up trapped in a net set by a local tribe. A member of the tribe cuts them loose and they run, worried that they've stumbled across a tribe hostile to outsiders. But the girl who cut them loose, about Lea's age, knows about civilization and speaks broken English learned from some items they've found like radios. The girl, Aki, knows where the poachers are and can show Lea and Paula the way--and how to avoid her tribe's traps.

Aki's mother shows up, and Lea recognizes the symbol on her arm as the same one on her grandmother's journal. When she shows Aki's mother the journal, Lea and Paula are invited back to Aki's village for the night (Paula was able to get cell service briefly, but with all the static all that Mrs. Clark gets is that they're together for the night). And it just so happens that, in the middle of the largest country in South America, they've stumbled across the tribe that Lea's grandmother helped years ago, when many members were ill. They happily agree to help find Zac.

In the morning, Aki's tribe has tracked Zac and discovered where the poachers are taking him. Mrs. Clark and the police officer have made a little progress, and find themselves at a store which is a front for the poachers. But all they know is that Zac shopped there. As they arrive to the store, Lea and her companions have snared a poacher in a trap, and Lea calls her mom on the man's satellite phone. Mrs. Clark is so distraught with all the stress (she discovered Lea and Paula were gone, too) that she orders Lea to come back to the hotel and then hangs up (and Lea doesn't call back?). Mrs. Clark and the police officer soon get suspicious--the store owner gets a call from Zac's office (they can see the number on the cell phone display screen). The owner runs away. At the office, Mrs. Clark and the police officer demand answers, prompting the man who claimed to have invited Zac over to bolt. He's soon arrested.

Lea and Paula are back in the city, too: Aki led them to the edge of her tribe's government protected area, and they caught a ride with a tour bus. But one of the poachers spotted them and chases them through a marketplace. They're able to give him the slip, and tail him to where Zac's being held in a warehouse. Lea is able to sneak in, but soon she and Paula are also caught. They manage to escape and get to the police (same officer as the one helping Mrs. Clark) but the poachers and animals are gone by the time they get back to the warehouse. Lea looks through the pictures on her camera (Paula was smart enough to hide it from the poachers) and finds clues to where the poachers are headed. The police officer radios for backup, and the poachers are caught as they're trying to escape by sea.

Back home in St. Louis, Lea is able to have a photography show with the pictures she took on her trip--not all of them though. Aki's tribe has little contact with the outside world and wants to stay that way (which is why the tribe stays on government-protected land, and why her grandmother didn't tell the family about her adventure). The pictures and other mementos go in a briefcase. Lea can revisit her memories, but she's committed to keeping Aki's secret.


Filmed in Capetown, Western Cape; Durban, KwaZulu-Natal; and Port Edward, South Africa.

It's so hard to type Clark with no E on the end. I have a friend whose last name is Clarke.

I agree with Mr. and Mrs. Clark. If I have a dinner guest who has dietary preferences or needs (e.g.; vegetarian, someone with allergies) I want to know so I can make food the person can eat. 

The sloth Lea found has been rehabilitated and released to the wild.

Aki's bangs are distractingly stylish.

Despite being filmed in Africa, the wildlife looks pretty good. I'm not sure about the plants, though. But nothing jumps out as horribly wrong for South America.

When the police arrest the poachers, several of them have their guns drawn. Look at their index fingers: they're all resting on the side of the gun, not on the trigger. Obviously unrealistic when apprehending dangerous criminals, but a very safe way to hold a gun you don't want to fire.

There's a bit with Zac offering to finish college in St. Louis, but Lea, now fond of Paula, says he has a life in Brazil and she doesn't want to keep him from living it.

If I could pick the 2017 Girl of the Year, I'd go with a girl from somewhere like American Samoa or Guam--there hasn't been a fully Asian Girl of the Year or historical character, and someone from a territory rather than a state would be really interesting and educational (residents of American Samoa aren't even US citizens, just US nationals, which kinda sucks...).


Lea Clark-Maggie Elizabeth Jones
Carol Clark-Hallie Todd
Aki-Storm Reid
Paula Ferreira-Laysla de Oliveira
Zac Clark-Connor Dowds
Ricardo Carvalho-Sean Cameron Michael
Officer Adriano Costa-Rehane Abrahams
Rick Clark-Kevin Otto
Miguel Belo-Joe Vaz
Bruno-Peter Butler
Abby-Mokgethoa Tebeila
Aki's Mother-Aimee Valentine
Zoe-Lee Raviv
Jimmy-Ray Crosswaite
Tribal Leader-Farouk Valley-Omar
Lea's Grandmother-Karin Howard
Reporter-Julie Phillips
Felipe Mourinho-Philip Waley
Luiz-Dylan Edy
Lea's Teacher-Julie Hartley
Policeman-Pisco Maurer

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