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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 Dawn Taylor

"This is, in all ways imaginable, an embarrassment on the name of Disney."
1 stars

When the animators who lovingly sketched, inked and painted the cell animation at Disney were given their walking papers, naysayers bemoaned the death of conventional animation in favor of slicker computer-based product. If "The Wild" is any indication of what we have to look forward to, then the naysayers were more than right this dumb, dull, ugly, derivative offering is one of the worst animated features in recent memory.

Coincidentally, I recently wrote in another review that "the people who make horror movies are among the laziest people in the film industry." The reference was to the way that the same four or five haunted house/teen slasher flick/psychological thriller scripts are recycled over and over again on the assumption that audiences won't notice that they're being sold the same tired tropes. Unfortunately, this was just days before I saw "The Wild", a film that reminded me that the people in charge of animated product for distribution by the Disney empire beat those in the horror business at laziness by a mile they can't even be bothered to come up with new concepts any more, much less story structures to hang them on. This time, the folks at the House That Mickey Built have served up a retread of DreamWorks' 2005 hit "Madagascar" torn up into little tiny pieces then pasted back together over the cold, dead body of "Finding Nemo," with anything that was clever left on the cutting room floor.

Like the grossly overpraised "Nemo," here we once again revisit Disney Movie 101, in which a single male parent ventures out of his comfort zone to find a wayward child who has stupidly put himself in danger. This time it's Samson the Lion, the proud premier attraction at the Central Park Zoo. He's voiced by Kiefer Sutherland, which is a little crazy-making if you've watched many episodes of "24" because it's hard to shake the feeling that at any moment Samson's about to shoot smack, get a gang tattoo and hang out with terrorists. But no, he's just a zoo animal, albeit one who's lied to his son, Ryan (Greg Cipes) about his past as a crazy-vicious jungle predator.

After Ryan runs off to the titular wild by sneaking into a conveniently placed container headed for Africa, Samson goes after him with his motley crew of wacky zoo pals because we all know that in the zoo all the animals are best friends! including an idiot snake (Richard Kind), a wise-ass squirrel (Jim Belushi) and the giraffe with whom he's in love (Janeane Garofalo). There's also a clumsy koala voiced by the brilliant Eddie Izzard, who can't possibly have needed the money so badly that he really thought that this was a good gig. With the exception of Belushi, it's quite a line-up of talent and it's terribly embarrassing to listen to them mouth lines so unfunny and forgettable that there isn't a single one in my notes that I can quote because nothing in this film's script was worth writing down.

Along the way Samson and the others meet the requisite Disney-manufactured variety of barely sketched caricatures which, by some sort of edict, must include at least one cringe-inducing stereotype. In "The Wild"those roles are filled by a group of Bollywood-dancing pigeons whose big-headed, droopy-eyed leader speaks with a Hindi accent, a pair of Noo Yawk Italian sewer gators and Canadian ("eh?") geese. Oh, the hilarity. Right on cue to provide third-act suspense comes the Scary Bad Guy, a wildebeest with delusions of grandeur who believes that try and stay with me here if the wildebeests eat a lion then they will become carnivorous predators, moving them up to the top of the food chain. Oh, and the crazy head wildebeest is played by William Shatner. Seriously. Yet, the people who made this film still managed to make a megalomaniacal William Shatner wildebeest character boring, which is one hell of an accomplishment.

Having done away with their traditional 2-D animation department in favor of a future in computer graphics and then losing their partnership with Pixar (who they're now in the process of buying isn't business fun?), the executives at Disney present us here with the fruits of those decisions, bringing to the screen a pricey, detail-intensive piece of CGI animation that offers characters who look like nothing less than expensive stuffed toys and a script that was thrown together with absolutely no originality or imagination. One can look at Samson or any other character in the film, for that matter and see that they were designed with licensing in mind, with every drop of creative juice not going into script development but intended to end up on lunch boxes, pajamas, Happy Meal toys and Pez dispensers. And it's not even subtle, with a major plot point tied to a plush likeness of the koala that was purchased in the zoo's gift shop, and a nighttime joy ride through Times Square that features product placements for McDonald's, Toys 'R' Us and the "Lion King" musical. (Interestingly, despite their prominent placement in the film and history as a Disney promotional partner, Toys R Us execs took a look at "The Wild" and politely passed on producing plush toys.)

The detailed, semi-realistic CG character and background designs also have the effect of highlighting how very sloppy the writing is, with the script (credited to four separate entities "Santa Clause" sequelizer Ed Dekter,"Snow Dogs" scribes Mark Gibson and Philip Halprin, and producer John J. Strauss) not only mirroring "Madasgascar's" after-hours animal camaraderie and, oh, entire general plot outline but also ignoring any logic whatsoever along the way. Even if you can suspend enough disbelief to buy that zoo animals who have thumbs and climb fences voluntarily stay in their enclosures during daylight hours, you also have to swallow a New York City where no one notices a lion, a koala and an anaconda on the streets, a garbage truck driver who doesn't see the giraffe riding in the back, and a tug boat that can a) be steered by a lion, b) is fast enough to keep pace with a freighter on the high seas and c) has enough fuel in its tank to get from New York to Africa ... and back.

This is, in all ways imaginable, an embarrassment on the name of Disney, and the people responsible for this should be ashamed of themselves. Yes, the word "business" is part of "show business" and studios make movies to turn a profit. But when that profit comes from offering unadulterated crap because they know that parents will fork over the dough for opening-weekend tickets, fast food tie-in merchandise and a zillion other licensed gewgaws no matter what the quality of the movie, that's inexcusable. Children, and their parents, deserve better than this.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=14309&reviewer=413
originally posted: 04/19/06 08:20:21
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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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