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Overall Rating
2.17

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 8.51%
Average: 14.89%
Pretty Bad61.7%
Total Crap: 14.89%

6 reviews, 11 user ratings


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Wild, The
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by Peter Sobczynski

"A film so unoriginal, it could have been written by Samir Patel"
2 stars

In an effort to deflect criticisms that their latest film, “The Wild,” is nothing more than an especially bald-faced rip-off of “Madagascar” and “Finding Nemo,” the Disney publicity machine has recently been stressing that the project has actually been in the works for over a decade–the implicit suggestion being, of course, that any similarities are a benign coincidence at best and evidence of skullduggery on the parts of Dreamworks and Pixar at worst. Without having any of the original documentation in front of me, I cannot say for certain whether they are telling the truth or not about what came from where and who came up with what when. I can say that the details of how “The Wild” came to be don’t really matter much because the end results are such a lifeless and uninspired drag that even the young audiences that it was clearly designed for–the ones who are eating up the sorry likes of “Ice Age: The Meltdown” as we speak–are likely to reject it in droves as a weak retread of material they have already seen before.

Once again, we are treated to a version of a zoo in the heart of New York where the animals are inexplicably free to roam the grounds after hours and get involved in zany hijinks. The zoo’s top draw is Samson (Keifer Sutherland), a fierce lion who likes to entertain his son Ryan (Greg Cipes) with tales of his adventures in the wild. Inspired by such stories and embarrassed that he hasn’t been able to find his “roar” and step out of his father’s shadow, Ryan decides to hide in a shipping crate that is being sent back to the wild. Discovering this, and knowing exactly what will probably happen to his son in the jungle, Samson takes to the streets and sewers of New York to rescue Ryan before his boat takes off, accompanied by a wacky squirrel (Jim Belushi), a wacky python (Richard Kind), a wacky koala bear (Eddie Izzard) and a not-quite-so-wacky giraffe (Janeane Garofalo)–it goes without saying that the nighttime streets of New York are completely empty so that no one notices a lion, python, koala and giraffe running about. Sadly, they are too late to stop the boat from leaving, so they hijack a tugboat and somehow figure out how to pilot it in order to follow Ryan’s ship to Africa.

When they arrive, it turns out that the ships are there to ferry animals away from the island because of the imminent explosion of the friendly neighborhood volcano. Frightened by the crush of evacuee animals (and while we are on the subject, isn’t it odd to see the second animated film in a row containing scenes that take on a new meaning in the wake of Hurricane Katrina?), Ryan panics and flees into the jungle. Samson, with his friends in tow, attempts to pursue him but it soon transpires that his legendary tales of jungle bravery and derring-do were made up in order to impress his son. Now he must summon the courage to both find his son and protect his friends from a swarm of wildebeests led by Kazar (William Shatner), a creature equally obsessed with dance choreography and defeating a full-grown lion in battle.

As you can see from just this brief plot recap (and I haven’t even mentioned the wacky chameleons who act like they are refugees from a spy thriller), there are few elements on display here that weren’t previously seen in “Madagascar” and “Finding Nemo.” Of course, “Antz” and “A Bug’s Life” both shared the same basic premise when they came out but both of those films worked because they took that idea and spun it off in unique and entertaining ways. The problem with “The Wild” is that it never finds its own source of inspiration that allows it to take off in a similar manner. Virtually every joke on display, right down to the weirdo production number that greets our heroes when they arrive in Africa, is one that has been seen before.

Even the voice casting lacks any real spark. While the idea of casting of Sutherland as the king of the jungle may have started as an odd in-joke reference to “24" (if his on-screen off-spring winds up getting caught in a cougar trap again, at least it would make a little more sense in this context), he is just a little too menacing to really work as the hero of a kid film–you keep waiting for him to threaten to cut off the head of every creature he comes across. While Garofalo gets off a couple of amusingly dry line readings, most of the other actors feel as if they were cast because the filmmakers couldn’t get bigger names and someone needs to tell William Shatner that whatever camp value his histrionic cadences may have inspired over the years, it just isn’t as amusing anymore now that he is playing up to it.

And yet, even though “The Wild” is as dull and uninvolving as it looks, it will probably still make a good chunk of change from parents who will take their offspring to see it under the impression that since it is a “G”-rated Disney cartoon, there won’t be anything bad in it. That may be true but there isn’t much of anything good about it either–by “good,” I mean anything funny, exciting, touching or entertaining. If those elements strike you as something to look for in childrens entertainment, I urge you to go to your local video store and get a copy of the recent DVD release of Hayao Miyazaki’s “My Neighbor Totoro,” a wonderful animated fantasy that contains all of them in spades. If such things don’t concern you at all, then “The Wild” should be right up your alley.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=14309&reviewer=389
originally posted: 04/14/06 14:15:55
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User Comments

3/18/16 Charles Tatum Unremarkable, quickly forgotten 2 stars
1/08/09 Shaun Wallner This movie stinks!! 2 stars
6/26/08 Mario The Wild is diet Madagascar 2 stars
6/21/08 PAUL SHORTT FUNNY, COMPASSIONATE, ENGAGING FILM THAT PROMPTS BOTH LAUGHS AND A LUMP IN THE THROAT 4 stars
5/20/06 B. Sutter My daughter's 1st movie- cult ritual sacrifice - thanks disney 1 stars
5/14/06 Koitus Ugh... LIttle humor, "Coldplay" soundtrack, booger jokes... Need I say more?!? 2 stars
5/07/06 Charlene Javier Quite enjoyable... 4 stars
4/28/06 Jen Wilson not bad... cute for its target audience- CHILDREN! 4 stars
4/20/06 bill lame story, beautiful visuals -- worth a look 3 stars
4/18/06 albert good....but somethiing wrong with this animation. 4 stars
4/14/06 me the commericals look stupid. 2 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  14-Apr-2006 (G)
  DVD: 12-Sep-2006

UK
  26-May-2006

Australia
  28-Sep-2006



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