Disney's 'Wild' fails to roar
Posted April 21, 2006

Original ideas come in all shapes and sizes.

Unfortunately, another computer animated feature about animals escaping from the New York Zoo isn’t one of them.

The release of Disney’s “The Wild” comes at a time when PC produced pictures geared at younger viewers are a dime a dozen.

To make matters worse, “The Wild” borrows a plotline strikingly similar to DreamWorks’ “Madagascar” with only half the humor of its more notable predecessors like “Ice Age” and “Finding Nemo.”

We are first introduced to Ryan, a young lion cub in the New York Zoo, who unlike his father, Samson, has yet to possess the ability to roar ferociously and consequently can’t impress the zoo spectators.

After listening to stories of how his father used to pummel his prey using the fierceness of his roar, Ryan becomes convinced that the only way he will ever live up to his father’s legacy is to escape to the wild and uncover the viciousness of his own voice.

This “Lion King” like effort to extract sympathy from the audience for a cub that cowers in the shadow of his father’s reputation sadly misses the mark.

The movie waits far too long to develop a bond between the father and son to make the son’s disappointment believable.

From there, the movie takes a series of twists and turns as Samson and other furry New York Zoo friends set out on an adventure to find his son.
Along the way they encounter the dangers of the city, the perils of the sea and the threat of the wild and an odd assortment of both tame and treacherous animals.

The rescue team consists of Ryan’s father, Sampson (Keifer Sutherland); a sassy diva-like giraffe (Janeane Garofalo); a clueless anaconda (Richard Kind); a loudmouth squirrel (Jim Belushi) and a cocky koala (Eddie Izzard).

The film’s only main comedic relief is Izzard’s easily spooked, bluntly honest koala bear, named Nigel.

Although Nigel is as determined to rescue Sampson’s son as the rest of the crew, his constant complaining and outrageous antics give the film a little adult appeal.

Another moment of creative comedy occurs when the gang of zoo animals gets stuck navigating their way through the New York sewer system.
They encounter two alligators that argue like a couple of New York cabbies about the quickest route to the statue of liberty.

Yet, for the most part, the movie is filled with lackluster bathroom humor and even more expected moments featuring the animals crashing into one another or getting banged on the head with hard objects.

“The Wild” is definitely geared toward the younger audiences without much concern for what will make the parents chuckle.

If older movie goers are going to appreciate anything about this film, it would probably be the exceptional visuals.

The 3-D realism of “The Wild” enhances some of the more action packed sequences with painstaking detail.

The soundtrack also features artists such as Coldplay, who may appeal to more mature viewers.

“The Wild” offers a family friendly experience with a predictable plotline and run of the mill kid movie humor for parents looking to get out of the house over the weekend.

“The Wild” is only worth the price of admission if you are looking to make a quick escape from the boredom jungle, temporarily.

Christine Collier can be reached at ccollier@ulv.edu.

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