Saving Lion Ryan
Release Date: April 14, 2006
Starring: THE VOICES OF Kiefer
Sutherland, Greg Cipes, Jim
Belushi, Eddie Izzard, Janeane
Garofalo, William Shatner, and
Audience: Older children to adults
Runtime: 81 minutes
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures/Buena
Vista Distribution/Walt Disney
Director: Steve "Spaz" Williams
Executive Producer: Kevin Lima, Stefan Simchowitz
and Will Vinton
Producer: Clint Goldman and Beau Flynn
Writer: Ed Decter, John J. Strauss,
Mark Gibson, and Philip
Address Comments To:Robert Iger, CEO
Buena Vista Distribution Co.
(Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures)
Dick Cook, Chairman
The Walt Disney Company
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521
Phone: (818) 560-1000
Young lion Ryan (voiced by Greg Cipes) has grown up hearing the jungle war stories of his father Samson (voiced by Kiefer Sutherland), and marvels with the rest of the zoo animals at his tall tales of bravery and adventure. Ryan, however, isn't growing into the fearsome warrior his sire seems to be, and he suspects it has something to do with his sheltered living arrangements. Having spent his entire life within the cozy confines of the New York City zoo, Ryan believes he must venture into the wilderness to gain the prestigious stature held by his father, to truly mature from cub to lion. Circumstances grant Ryan this opportunity when he is mistakenly transported away in a trailer, although he second guesses his longing for departure as soon as it begins.
When Samson hears Ryan calling from the leaving truck, he immediately seeks to rescue him. Joining his mission are a diverse crew of animals, including Nigel (voiced by Eddie Izzard), a stuffy koala bear with a British accent, Benny (voiced by Jim Belushi), a clumsy and good-natured squirrel, Bridget (voiced by Janeane Garofalo), a sassy and sarcastic giraffe, and a dim-witted anaconda (voiced by Richard Kind). This cast of characters tracks Ryan to a ship in the New York Harbor, which they eventually follow all the way to Africa. Here, they face a number of obstacles, most notably the sinister leader of the wildebeests, Kazar (voiced by William Shatner), who is determined to replace the lions at the top of the food chain.
THE WILD may not be one of Disney's most creative efforts, especially considering its suspicious resemblance with last year's MADAGASCAR. The plot, in fact, is strikingly similar. Both computer animated movies feature a group of domesticated animals that face culture shock when they venture from a New York City zoo to the jungle. At the center of each story is a mild-mannered lion, popular among his zoo populace, and eventually forced to submit to primal instincts the longer he spends in the wild. Still, despite its creative deficiencies, THE WILD does what it takes to entertain, and avoids wearing out its welcome by clocking in at a crisp 81 minutes.
Happily, there are enough amusing and exciting moments in THE WILD to hold the audience's interest. The squirrel Benny has a well-intended crush on Bridget the giraffe, despite their ridiculous disparity in size, and his innocent advances always bring a smile. Eddie Izzard's performance as the voice for Nigel the koala bear stands out among a respectable cast, including William Shatner, who'se pretty scary as the villain, Kazar. A short curling match against the penguins (with a turtle as the puck) is a nice touch.
THE WILD has a strong moral worldview stressing the importance of courage, self-sacrifice and family, as well as the need to protect loved ones from danger. Kazar, the crazed villain, turns out to be a deluded pagan who believes Nigel is a divine chosen one sent by the gods. People of faith will appreciate the movie's denunciation of pagan sacrifice and polytheism, but some of the action scenes are too scary for younger children.
In a nutshell, THE WILD doesn't roar magnificently like MADAGASCAR, but it purrs strongly enough. It's a better-than-average movie with a story that extols moral virtues and truth.
THE WILD is not Disney's most creative effort, especially considering its suspicious resemblance to last year's MADAGASCAR. Both movies feature domesticated wild animals who face culture shock when they venture into the jungle. Happily, however, there are enough amusing, exciting moments to hold the audience's interest. THE WILD doesn't roar, but it purrs strongly enough. It's a better-than-average movie with a story that extols positive values like courage, self-sacrifice, family, and the protection of loved ones. Some scenes are too scary for younger children.