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The Plush Dolls Are in Danger!

  • Jan 24, 2007
Rating:
-1
In THE WILD, Ryan (Greg Cipes) is a young lion who lives in a New York City zoo with his father Samson (Keifer Sutherland). Fueled by stories of his father's adventurous youth, Ryan yearns to leave the zoo and travel to the wild to live the way his father lived. The trouble is that Samson is a creature born in captivity and only told Ryan those stories to keep him interested and make him proud of Dad. After a bitter dispute between father and son and purposefully disobedience, Ryan finds himself on a ship to Africa. Samson and his friends, which include a giraffe, koala bear, and a snake break out of the zoo, travel through the city, and board the ship carrying Ryan that is heading to Africa. Once there, they find themselves stranded and having to face evil, carnivorous wildebeests and an impending volcanic eruption. The king of the wildebeests, Kazar (William Shatner) doesn't want the animals to escape. If they don't the volcano will erupt and everyone is going to die a horrible death.

THE WILD supports a strong and talented cast. From Keifer Sutherland to James Belushi to William Shatner, the filmmakers didn't skimp in getting good actors for the characters. I found the voices of the characters to be the most rewarding thing about the movie. However, the filmmakers must have spent most of their money on the voice talent because just about everything else in the film is two or three levels below par.

Apparently, Disney had been working on versions of the screenplay all the way back to 1991. That much time and effort would leave one to believe that the story must be good. Unfortunately, that's not true. Whatever originality must have been lost in the process because other than wildebeests, koala bears, and a volcano THE WILD seems like a rip off of MADAGASCAR and a relatively poor one at that. If it is true that screenplay ideas were being written all the way back to 1991, then Disney should sue someone at Dreamworks for stealing their idea.

It is true that THE WILD is a film that is slightly more appropriate for younger children than MADAGASCAR is. For instance, there aren't many jokes aimed at adult in THE WILD like there are in MADAGASCAR. For example, the overall tone and plot of the movie moves at a pace more akin to the mindset of a first grader. Also, the animation appeals more towards younger children than anyone else. Watching the film I couldn't help but think back to my childhood days in Sunday School when the teacher would illustrate a story with velcro board and velcro figures and items. That's kind of what the creatures in THE WILD look like. They look more like animated puppets than real-life creatures or great cartoon characters. The background animation in the movie is spectacular. The streets of New York are extremely detailed while the jungle scenery is lush and vivid. These brilliant backdrops, however, make the characters of the film seem even that much more out of place.

Lastly, there is no real message in THE WILD. Not that every animated movie or even every movie geared towards kids has to have a message. However, for a movie that really doesn't have that great of a story, seems to be rip-off of a more popular picture, and one where the animated animals look like giant plush puppets, an important message could have improved the picture greatly.

Young children will probably enjoy THE WILD and some of their parents probably will to (it is such a cute movie after all). Otherwise, you're probably better off leaving THE WILD on one of the shelves in the wilderness of the video store. In the survival of the fittest, THE WILD gets eaten alive by MADAGASCAR and THE HEDGE.

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review by . October 17, 2006
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A cuddly koala who wants to be fierce, a squirrel in love with a sarcastic giraffe, an addle-pated anaconda, and a lion with a secret set off from their cozy zoo to rescue the lion's adolescent cub from an accidental kidnapping. After braving the dangers of the big city and stealing a boat, they find themselves in the African jungle, where a renegade herd of wildebeest have decided they want to change their position on the food chain (understandable, really).The Wildis hodgepodge--it's never clear why these mismatched creatures are friends and plot elements seem haphazardly plucked fromFinding Nemo,Madagascar, andIce Age: The Meltdown(though the latter two were made at the same time asThe Wild, so it's just unfortunate for this movie that they came out first). Despite a general air of manic desperation,The Wilddoes have its strengths: The animation is richly realistic, leading to some gorgeous depictions of light (not exactly a selling point for kids, but adults can appreciate it). Several characters pop out--a pair of sewer crocodiles sound like NPR's Car Talk guys; William Shatner (Star Trek,Boston Legal) is effectively scary as the cult-leader/choreographer of the wildebeest; and comedian Eddie Izzard lends some of his trademark smart and silly humor to Nigel, the disgruntled koala bear. Successful bits and pieces don't make for a great movie, but they keepThe Wildfrom the brink of disaster.--Bret Fetzer
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