The Wild

Did you like Madagascar?  How about Finding Nemo?  And The Lion King?  Well, then chances are you'll get a kick out of The Wild, which feels like a combination of all three.  The movie looks and plays like a rip-off of Madagascar, given a group of animals (including a lion and a giraffe) from a large zoo in New York City, make their way across the ocean in a ship and end up in Africa, but this is not exactly a fair criticism.  Both films were in development at the same time.  Madagascar focused more on yucks, while The Wild attempts (but doesn't succeed) at emotional resonance.

Steve "Spaz" Williams directed The Wild, and his nickname is a good indication of how the movie goes.  Much of the reason why none of the emotional moments ring true is that all the characters often act like they are on some strange sugar high.  The story by Ed Decter (Rebound, The Lizzie Maguire Movie) and Mark Gibson and Philip Halprin (Snow Dogs, The In Crowd) feels like a general retread.  Much like Brother Bear, as soon as a character is introduced, it's fairly easy to see through the character and predict.  The little lion looking for his roar will probably get it by the end of the film.  And the daddy lion who is so proud of his "wild" origins may not have been too truthful.

It's kind of a shame, since the animation for The Wild is surprisingly good.  Where Madagascar affected a look that was a bit more cartoony, for the most part, the animals here look surprisingly lifelike.  Samson (voiced by Kiefer Sutherland, Taking Lives, Phone Booth) and his son Ryan (voiced by Greg Cipes, Broken Lizard's Club Dread, Holes) look beautifully detailed.  There are probably an obscene number of individual strands of hair, on each of them, and they all seem to move naturally and independently.  The backgrounds and other animals are also richly detailed, and The Wild lacks that glossy sheen that some CGI films suffer from.

The plot revolves around Samson's efforts to rescue Ryan.  Ryan feels ashamed because he mews like a cat instead of roaring like a lion.  The other animals in the zoo simply laugh at him.  He tries to prove his bravery but ends up on a crate bound for Africa.  Samson and his loyal friends Benny the squirrel (voiced by Jim Belushi, Hoodwinked, Snow Dogs), Nigel the koala (voiced by Eddie Izzard, Ocean's Twelve, All the Queen's Men), Bridget the giraffe (voiced by Janeane Garofalo, Stay, Jiminy Glick in Lalawood), and the loopy Larry the snake (voiced by Richard Kind, The Producers, Bewitched) are off to rescue him.  They go on a quick jaunt through New York, then cross the ocean in a tugboat (?).  Once in Africa, they discover all sorts of cute things about themselves and become better people.  It's nice, but nothing special.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 34 minutes, Rated G.

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