Reviewed by: Sheri McMurray
|Featuring:||Kiefer Sutherland, Eddie Izzard, James Belushi, Janeane Garofalo, Richard Kind, William Shatner, Patrick Warburton, Greg Cipes|
|Director:||Steve “Spaz” Williams|
|Distributor:||Walt Disney Pictures|
“A whole new breed of tourist.”
As scripture tells us, “The glory of youth is strength” and “The Wild” puts that into perfect perspective. We all must find our “roar.”
What I expected was a re-do of “Madagascar”, but I came away much more impressed and with a renewed respect for the animators of today’s CG wonderlands. The fur on the animals depicted in this animated flick was so realistic, I had to fight the urge to go up to the screen and pet ‘em! Anyone who watches the special features on DVD’s like “Finding Nemo” and “The Incredibles” knows these CG animators say that hair and fur are the hardest aspect of their computer animation job.
Samson (the warm, deep voice of Kiefer Sutherland) is the star “king of the beasts” attraction at the New York City zoo. He loves to tell his young son/cub, Ryan (Greg Cipes) inspirational tales of his own courage back in the days when he was growing up in the wild, digging deep within for the blood curdling roar to end all roars that scatters each and every would-be predator.
Young Ryan, on the brink of his “lionhood,” can’t seem to manage anything more than a pathetic squeak. He is laughed at by the zoo animals, “Look at him. He’s sulking cause he lives in his father’s shadow and he roars like a school girl!”—can’t seem to fit in with the bigger “cubs” and is painfully disappointed in himself. He also mistakenly assumes his father is disappointed in him too, and spends much of his time up in a tree watching mysterious containers called “The Green Box” pack up zoo animals to be carted away, never to return.
When Ryan impulsively stows away in one of these green containers on its way to the docks, Samson puts together a rescue crew consisting of his best friends Benny the squirrel (Jim Belushi), Larry the snake (Richard Kind), Nigel the koala (Eddie Izzard), and Bridget the giraffe (Janeane Garafolo).
Everyone ends up going all the way to Africa, where they have to rescue themselves and Ryan from various wild life, would-be predators, and a very ominous-looking volcano.
Half the fun is getting out of New York, fighting off a posse of dogs who’s rabid leader is a puffy white Poodle, and the flushed-down-the-toilet variety of sewer alligators. So, learning to captain a tug boat and fend off dung beetles is the least of their worries.
As you might guess Samson with his band of unlikely heros, saves his son whilst proving his great love for him and learning to follow his own instincts. Everyone gets in plenty of gags, jokes and quips and Ryan ultimately finds his roar.
Some jokes may go over the heads of younger children. The humor is mild even though there is a spattering of kid-friendly potty humor: passing wind, a character lands on a fence (with references to his crotch) and the inevitable reference to bathroom functions. There is the usual cartoon violence like characters getting bonked on the head, falling out of trees, sliding across ice, etc.
The sequence where a character is being treated like a god by the natives made me a bit uncomfortable and you may want to discuss this with your kids. The character does get a bit “puffed up” by the attention, but later learns that he is not a god and could never be. In this tribal ritual sequence characters chant “holey moley” and although meant to be in good fun, parents may not find that acceptable humor and might want to take the opportunity to discuss the harm of sacrilegious attitudes and what true holiness is with their families.
The running theme is launched by Benny the squirrel, “Best friends should stick together,” and sets the foundation for “The Wild”. It is for kids 8 years old and up and I can say it is one of the few movies I’ve seen lately geared towards kids this young, that I would feel safe sending to the theater without parental supervision. But go with them, there’s something playful and amusing here for everyone.
In some ways, this film is better than “Madagascar”, but its thunder has been so definitively stolen, it may go unfairly unnoticed this season. I encourage parents to take your kids to see it now before all the summer blockbusters come rolling in, so you and your family can truly appreciate “The Wild”.
Violence: Minor / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.