The Wild (2006) / Animation-Family
MPAA Rated: G, suitable for all audiences (although some potentially scary moments for the youngest)
Running Time: 94 min.
Cast (voices): Kiefer Sutherland, Greg Cipes, James Belushi, Eddie Izzard, Janeane Garofalo, William Shatner, Richard Kind, Don Cherry, Patrick Warburton
Director: Steve 'Spaz' Williams
Screenplay: Ed Decter, Mark Gibson, Philip Halprin, John J. Strauss
If, by some fluke, time were to be reversed, The Wild might have a chance to be recognized as the film that started it all, in terms of modern animated fare. It would be heralded as the one that Madagascar rips off in characters, that Finding Nemo steals themes from, and the one from which The Lion King takes its main story. Alas, time doesnít work that way, which is just as well, since the crew at Walt Disney would have been clueless where to draw inspiration from to make their strictly by-the-numbers movie.
Like Madagascar, The Wild starts off in a zoo in New York City, where Samson the lion (voiced by Kiefer Sutherland, Taking Lives) has been teaching his young son Ryan (Cipes, Club Dread) about how to ďcome of ageí by learning to belt out the ferocious lion roar. Ryan feels inadequate, since he doesnít have the rough and rugged experience of dear old dad, who regales him constantly with stories of how, before landing in the zoo, he was king of the jungle. Wanting to experience what it would be like for himself, Ryan finds a way to escape the zoo on board a ship headed to the jungle, where he can be every bit the lion he was meant to be. Samson, along with a motley crew of friendly creatures from the zoo, makes his escape and follows suit, only for them all to find that the jungle is no place for them to be if they havenít lived the life of the wild.
The Wild isnít really a terrible movie in and of itself. It does feature very good animation, quality voice work, lifelike creatures, and imaginative characters, and I suppose that children that see this as one of their first movie experiences will probably enjoy it. Unfortunately, for anyone that has seen all of the movies mentioned in the first paragraph, thereís very little here that isnít already covered better, and with more heart.
No, it isnít a bad film, but it is very redundant, forgettable, and ultimately, irrelevant. Despite its severely derivative leanings, yes, young kids may still enjoy it, but it is a far cry from being the universal crowd-pleaser that Finding Nemo was.
©2006 Vince Leo