"Saving Lion Ryan"
THE WILD is a computer animated comedy about a coming-of-age lion that goes to great lengths to find his roar.
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.
(BB, FR, VV, M) Strong moral worldview stresses the importance of courage, self-sacrifice and family, as well as the need to protect loved ones from danger, and the importance of overcoming personal fear, with false quasi-religious elements of polytheism and pagan sacrifice in which a tribe of wildebeests’ leader claims to be a prophet waiting for a divine chosen one from the gods which he believes to be a koala bear, though this belief is clearly rebuked as silly, deluded and misguided; no foul language; strong, sometimes scary, cartoon violence involving battles and confrontations between wildebeasts and lions, scary alligators turn out to be friendly, animals knocked out, animal on tree that falls off cliff, rocks fall on animal, villain wants to throw lion into fiery pit to cook and eat lion, and scary villain threatens animals, including child animal; no sexual references, though a squirrel kisses a giraffe; no alcohol; no drugs; and, kidnapping, deception, boa dresses up as Carmen Miranda, and father tells stories to son about his life in the wild that aren't true.
THE WILD is a computer animated movie about a young lion that goes to great lengths to find his roar. Ryan has grown up hearing the jungle war stories of his father Samson, and marvels with the rest of the zoo animals at his tall tales of bravery. If he is to truly mature from cub to lion, Ryan believes he too must experience the dangers of the wilderness, and he receives this opportunity when he is mistakenly transported away and shipped to the African jungle. Samson and an assorted cast of zoo animals seek to rescue the cub, and a series of adventures in the jungle soon follow.
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.