This is all you need to know: The Wild is just like Madagascar, only not funny.
As almost every critic has pointed out, The Wild suffers greatly from the curse of dual animated movies - copies of nearly the exact same plot or premise always tend to come out around the same time, usuallyn in the form of animated features. How two studios supposedly come up with the exact same story independent of one another at the exact same time is beyond me, but I do know that Madagascar reached theaters first and it was a whole heck of a lot more entertaining than The Wild. Madagascar, while not perfect, seemed to take each of its characters and squeeze every bit of comedy out of them. The Wild seems content with being a mildly humorous kid's drama. Who the heck wants to watch a mildly humorous kid's drama?
If you're not familiar with Madagascar, let me explain the two plots:Madagascar is about four animals from the New York Zoo (Central Park Zoo? Bronz Zoo? I can't remember) who have dreams about getting out of the United States, where they are famous and loved, to experience the wild. They hitch a ride with a few psychotic penguins and end up in Africa, where they become worshipped by some crazy monkeys and so on and so forth. The Wild, on the other hand, is about four animals who hitch a ride from their New York zoo to Africa to search for one of their friends who was accidentally sent there, and at least one of them ends up getting worshipped by some crazy wildebeests. I know the similarities are pretty vague, but analyze this paragraph a few times until you realize that these movies are based on the exact same writer's pitch!
The Wild does have its funny moments, but a lot of its jokes - when there are obvious jokes to be seen - miss the mark. A Disney film, The Wild actually tries to spoof The Lion King by starting out with "Simba's" glorious walk to the top of the mountain, and there is also the sequence where father and son are trapped in a stampede of wildebeests. Unfortunately, these spoofs are neither as amusing or clever as the creators obviously thought they would be, and this is the problem. The film looks great, but none of the characters are especially entertaining, and the lead character, the lion (voiced by Kiefer Sutherland), is the lamest of all of them. The only funny character in the whole movie is the koala, but even he isn't used to full potential - I would have loved for the movie to capitalize on the fact that most koalas sleep 22 hours of the day.
The one thing The Wild has going for it is special effects. The movie boasts some of the best character graphics I've seen; the animals almost look real at times (of course, this may be another reason why the movie plays more like a drama than a cartoon at times).
The Wild really didn't make me want to watch Madagascar again, but it did make me want to go and buy a copy of The Lion King. It is really a rather boring and lame duck attempt by Disney to get back to their glory days, and certainly proof that they need Pixar to maintain the bottom line. I'm waiting for the day when they return to traditional animation so they start focusing less on glamour and more on a quality screenplay.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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