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The Independent Critic

Kiefer Sutherland, James Belushi, Janeane Garofalo, Greg Cipes
Steve "Spaz" Williams
Ed Decter, John J. Strauss
Rated G
94 Mins.
 "The Wild" Review 
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By now you've undoubtedly read or heard numerous individuals who instantly compare "The Wild" to the fairly recent "Madagascar."

It is, after all, a fair comparison.

Both films feature animals escaping from a zoo for the jungle. They both experiences animals having a wide variety of experiences and, of course, both provide laughs while teaching us heartwarming life lessons.

I'll even confess that I had no intention of seeing "The Wild." Heck, these days, if I'm not signed up for it on IndependentCritics I don't usually see it. With a fellow critic initially signed up, I had no hesitation in leaving this film alone.

Then, of course, there's that thing everyone experiences when you're my age and still single. Inevitably, when you get invited out somewhere with a friend THEIR kids always come along.

So, I found myself in a theatre watching a film I didn't really care to see.

Surprisingly, "The Wild" is a modestly entertaining, visually appealing (borderline slick) film with fun characters, great voice work and quite a few laughs.

The film centers around a lion cub, Ryan (Admit it. You laughed at "Ryan the Lion."), As voiced by Greg Cipes, Ryan is a youthful, energetic and appealing character that should immediately attract the interest of young children. One day, mischievous Ryan accidentally finds himself in a shipping crate destined to be shipped off to the jungles of Africa. His father, Samson (Kiefer Sutherland) escapes from the zoo with a few friends and begins a global mission to rescue his son.

His companions? Hmmmm. Let's see. There's Benny the Squirrel (James Belushi), Bridget the Giraffe (Janeane Garofalo), Nigel the Koala (Eddie Izzard) and Larry the Anaconda (Richard Kind). Along the way, they encounter numerous characters, notably Kazar the Wildebeest (William Shatner), who longs to be the king of the jungle.

In addition to the inevitable comparison to "Madagascar," it's hard not to chuckle at the squirrel, not realizing he's a squirrel. It's sort of like "Ice Age: The Meltdown," but even more reminded me of that squirrel/bulldog romance in "Little Nicky."

"The Wild" is G-rated fare that is aimed squarely at children. Truthfully, I can't fathom it pleasing adults. However, the film has lots of action, solid CGI (almost TOO realistic) and characters that are essentially designed to appeal to every type of child. It would be hard to imagine any child not leaving "The Wild" and feeling connected to at least one of the animated characters.

Ultimately, most adults are destined to feel distracted watching "The Wild." Director Steve "Spaz" Williams takes an almost spastic approach to camera work that is often distracting and, at times, feels out of balance. There are several unexpected close-ups and weird angles that will likely annoy more serious moviegoers, but children may very well find them exciting.

With an $80 million budget, it's frightening to me to think that a group of studio executives sat around a room and green-lighted this film so close to "Madagascar." "The Wild" will likely come in a distant second to "Madagascar," but will find life on DVD.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic