With Shrek and Shark Tale having successfully set the model for crass kids’ film product placement, it comes as little surprise that Disney’s The Wild—about a few Central Park Zoo inhabitants who escape their confines and travel to the jungle to save a lion cub—features the synergistic sight of a Times Square marquee for The Lion King musical. Still, there’s something foul about this latest animated adventure’s blatant plush toy-ready construction, its every colorful character model seemingly crafted with the accompanying stuffed doll tie-in in mind. Their near-photorealistic hair and textures awkwardly meshing with their cartoonish mannerisms and almost immobile mouths, The Wild‘s CGI creatures are an unattractive lot, exhibiting neither the bouncy angularity nor classical smoothness of the beasts from Madagascar and The Lion King, respectively, two superior films whose narratives are roundly aped by Steve ‘Spaz’ Williams’s directorial debut. Papa lion Samson (Kiefer Sutherland) finds himself on a cross-city journey after his son Ryan (Greg Cipes), insecure over his inability to let loose with a mature roar, accidentally finds himself spirited away in a mysterious green box. Samson is joined on his quest by a smart giraffe (Janeane Garofalo), a wiseacre squirrel (James Belushi), a stupid snake (Richard Kind), and a funny koala (Eddie Izzard), though it’s in the secondary players (Italian alligators, Indian pigeons, German bugs, Canadian Geese) that predictably inane ethnic/cultural stereotypes get an opportunity to flourish. So pathetically derivative is the film, including its awfully bland Alan Silvestri score, that almost none of its wannabe off-the-wall protagonists or peripheral critters register as anything other than two-dimensional ciphers designed to appeal to audience members’ fond memories of Simba, Mufasa, and other Disney icons. However, if originality wasn’t in the cards, at least director Williams and his quartet of screenwriters might have provided some logical consistency for their scenario. But no, with its story beset by contradictions like a boat-riding giraffe yelling, “No one knows how to steer! We’re animals!” one moment, and then smartly using the word “melee” the next, The Wild is too slipshod to even decide on the level of its animals’ anthropomorphism.
- Steve "Spaz" Williams
- Ed Decter, John J. Strauss, Mark Gibson, Philip Halprin
- Kiefer Sutherland, James Belushi, Greg Cipes, Janeane Garofalo, Eddie Izzard, Richard Kind, Patrick Warburton, William Shatner
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