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WILD, THE

SYNOPSIS:
Samson the lion (voice of Keifer Sutherland), is the king of the animals even inside New York's zoo, where the animals party hard after all the human visitors have gone. But when Samson's adolescent cub (voice of Greg Cipes) gets himself accidentally shipped off to Africa, his zoo pals, Bridget the giraffe (voice of Janeane Garofalo), Larry the anaconda (voice of George Carlin), Benny the squirrel (voice of Jim Belushi), and Nigel the koala (voice of Eddie Izzard), must put aside their differences to help bring him back.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Strictly for undemanding youngsters (who have pestered parents or gran to take them), The Wild is anything but. Not only tame, it's also lame, with its hopes pinned on a father and son relationship that hinges on the fact that daddy had been lying about all his brave escapades in the wild - where he's never been. This heartwarming idea is spliced with clunky attempts at humour.

The story's laboured premise and unsatisfying telling leaves us perplexed at how Disney let this through. There are signs of tokenism in the perfunctory settings of New York' zoo and the arrival at the oceanside jungle and the animation often leaves something to be desired in how un-charming the characters look and how badly they often move. Especially perplexing is to have chosen a giraffe (voiced by Janeane Garofalo) as one of the main characters, whose anatomy requires the character to be constantly hunched or bent over to stay in the frame.

But it's not all bad: the animators do great hair, fur and mane, as well as terrific water, and Garofalo manages to inject some character into her work, as does the endlessly amusing Eddie Izzard, whose largely improvised, droll dialogue as an English koala (yes, they're everywhere in Britain) is the only thing that will keep adults awake - and there's not enough of him. Also entertaining (and also too rare) is the visualisation of Samson the lion's animal instinct. Portrayed as vibrantly coloured signs and symbols appearing magically on the jungle flora, and even as magical creations who claim to be undercover agents, these are the most imaginative elements of the film.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

WILD, THE (G)
(US, 2006)

VOICES: Kiefer Sutherland, James Belushi, Eddie Izzard, Janeane Garofalo, William Shatner, Richard Kind, Greg Cipes

PRODUCER: Beau Flynn, Clint Goldman

DIRECTOR: Steve Spaz Williams

SCRIPT: Ed Decter, Mark Gibson, Philip Halprin, John J. Strauss

CINEMATOGRAPHER: n/a

EDITOR: Scott Balcerek, Steven L. Wagner

MUSIC: Alan Silvestri

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Chris Farmer

RUNNING TIME: 82 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: BVI

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Victoria: September 14, 2006; Queensland: September 21, 2006; NSW/WA/SA: September 28, 2006

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: BVHE

VIDEO RELEASE: February 7, 2007







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