Nothing to Go Wild Over
Movie studios are notorious for pushing uninspired remakes, movies which borrow heavily from successful films, and sequels made for the sole purpose of turning a quick profit onto unsuspecting audiences. But with The Wild
, the filmmakers have just pushed things too far. Theres nothing original here. Hardly a single character, scene or storyline in this unappealing and surprisingly lifeless animated movie is something we haven't seen done before - and done better. The Wild
is more of the same old thing, wrapped in a just barely whisper-thin disguise.
I dont know who had the idea first the filmmakers behind Madagascar or The Wild. Frankly I dont care and neither should audiences. What does matter is that The Wild feels like a warmed over version of Madagascar and that film is recent enough (it was released in May 2005) that its still relatively fresh in our minds. Audiences will immediately notice the striking similarities between the two family films and justifiably feel as though they're watching an alternate cut of Madagascar rather than a film that stands on its own.
A scene from the animated animal movie, The Wild.© Walt Disney Pictures
Both films feature New York Zoo animals. Both movies have a lion and a giraffe in prominent roles. Madagascar
and The Wild
also have rebellious penguins and zoo occupants who party once the people leave. The heroes of both films break out of their zoo enclosures and make their way through the streets of New York, although only in The Wild
is the Times Square sequence so jarringly full of product placement. The main characters in both films ultimately wind up on a boat the animals commandeer in order to get to the wild. The similarities dont end once the characters crash into land. In both movies, the New York Zoo creatures are met by dancing animals led by a bizarre ruler. Madagascar
and The Wild
even try and teach the same basic lessons.
As for the voice cast, I admire Kiefer Sutherland (and Im addicted to 24) but theres not enough warmth in his voice as Samson, the father lion forced to travel to the wild to retrieve his young son. Sutherlands vocal performance is basically a one note affair. He never connects emotionally and that's absolutely mandatory when bringing an animated character to life.
Sutherlands not the only member of the voice cast who fails to make much of an impression. Eddie Izzard is a wise-cracking Koala who generates the films few laughs. Izzard pushes the comedy toward a PG rating but apparently wasn't allowed to take the final step. Jim Belushi was just okay as a squirrel in love with a giraffe. And speaking of the giraffe, I had no idea she was voiced by Janeane Garofalo until I read through the credits after watching the movie. Is that a good thing? Not in this case. Garofalos biting wit wasnt included in the characters personality. Had it been, The Wild
may have wound up a little edgier and not the total snorefest it turned out to be.
To sum it up, The Wild is pointless. There are only a couple of good chuckles, the animation is beautiful yet detached, and the plot is Madagascar all over again with a little Finding Nemo sprinkled in for good measure. Even if Madagascar didn't exist, The Wild wouldn't be worth the price of a ticket. Its a movie that, if it absolutely had to be made, should have gone straight to DVD. Rent almost any other recent animated movie, make your own popcorn, and save yourself some money.
The Wild was directed by Steve 'Spaz' Williams and is rated G.