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May 15, 2006 |

By Phillip Stephens | Film | May 15, 2006 |

I could begin my summary of The Wild like every other critic and unload on the total equivalence of the movie to its bastard cousin, Madagascar, but I really don’t have the time or inclination. Neither is worth the effort of comparison or bothering to point out which came first. I don’t give a shit, and I sincerely hope you don’t either.

Here we go: Big lion and little lion live in the New York Zoo. Big lion regales little lion with stories of “the wild,” all the while hiding the secret shame of actually being from the circus. Squirrel, python, koala, and giraffe look on. Little lion feels dejected, goes roaming around and ends up on a boat to Africa. Group gives chase. Badabing, badaboom. I’m told that Kiefer Sutherland, Eddie Izzard, James Belushi, and Janeane Garofalo provide some of the voices, but I can’t be arsed to remember who does what.

More to the point when comparing these two tepid stories of zoo animals on the run is that both suffer the pitfalls of inappropriate vocal casting, hoping that celebrity status will outweigh whether that actor can deliver lines in a humorous fashion. And that’s even assuming the jokes are good. Observe:

Lion: This [sewer] appears to be a human bathing area.

Koala: You mean humans don’t lick themselves? Disgusting!

Yours Truly: I just opened my wrists into the popcorn bucket. Everyone, please leave the theater.

There’s about an hour and a half of quality stingers like this. No thank you.

Most of us can remember a time when Disney was cock of the cartoon walk, leading the industry in animation technology and writing/songwriting, but the last decade, even before the dawn of the CG era, has seen the company slide further and further downhill, releasing pitiful straight-to-video sequels of their decades-old classics while Pixar and DreamWorks take the reins. The film’s only saving grace from an adult standpoint is its animation, which is admittedly fluid and stunning.

As with every review of a studio animation flick, I have the inevitable caveat: It’s possible that the 10-and-under age group that The Wild was clearly aimed at may find some fun in the terrible jokes and spastic insanity, but the ones in my theater didn’t seem to. And to that end, I implore you: Stay home with the kids this weekend! If they want a movie, dust off some pre-1994 Disney or Don Bluth classic and stay away from this tripe.

Phillip Stephens is a movie critic for Pajiba.

The Wild / Phillip Stephens

Film | May 15, 2006 |

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