The Mild

by Alan Rapp on April 14, 2006

in Movie Reviews 

This movie helps you understand the Disney purchase of Pixar.  When Disney is stealing story, characters, plot, settings, and basically everything from Dreamworks… well, you know they’ve hit rock bottom.  The film is almost a carbon copy of last years Madagascar and despite the fact it steals everything but the kitchen sink it still took six writers to come up with this script.  Really?  Six writers?  For this? 

Is it worth seeing?  Did you like Madagascar?  Would you have liked it without Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimer and Jada Pinkett Smiith?  If the answer is yes than this summer’s good dumb fun flick for the whole family is just waiting for you.

The Wild
2 & 1/2 Stars

If you missed seeing Madagascar (check out Aaron’s review here) on the big screen here’s you chance!  Wow folks, Disney animation is in such a state of decline that it’s now stealing plot, character, scenes, dialogue, and story from Dreamworks.  Maybe Mickey Mouse needs to get a second job.

A group of animals leave the zoo and travel around New York then make their way on a boat to a beach and into the jungles of “the wild.”  There they are met by a tribe of strange singing and dancing creatures with a wacky ruler who puts one of the group in charge. 

Any of this sound familiar?  Well it should because it’s the exact plot to last year’s Madagascar but somehow it also turns out to be the plot to The Wild with only a few minor differences.  This time there is a lion (Kiefer Sutherland) and a giraffe (Jeneane Garofalo) but the zebra and hippo have been replaced by a squirrel (James Belushi), a snake (Richard Kind), and a koala bear (Eddie Izzard).  And the wacky but cute lemurs who sing and dance are replaced by the wacky but creepy wildebeasts who sing and dance (the leaders played here by William Shatner and Patrick Warburton in roles they could, and seemingly did, do in thier sleep).  The main structure of the story stays the same except this time the group leaves to rescue the lion’s son (Greg Cipes) rather than the zebra.

Along the way there’s some nice music, tons and tons of (rather pointless and monotonous) dialogue, and a few clever jokes.  Kids will probably enjoy the film and it’s the type of nice dumb summer comedy that seems to play well with families.  But, aside from the similarities with the superior Madagascar, which itself is only so-so, there are a few problems.

First off there are some mind-numbing inexcusable missteps and miscues.  One such example: the group of animals escape the New York Zoo and drive around the city in a dump truck.  Aside from how lame that sounds the computer animation people didn’t create a single car (parked or moving) or a single person walking around the city as they drive through the completely empty and spotless streets of New York including Times Square.  Did I fall asleep?  Are they doing an animated version of Vanilla Sky?  Or did they just run out of money in the animation budget?  I would rather except those excuses than the more obvious one that the creators saw this as a meaningless kids film that didn’t need the level of detail and realism you would get in a Powerpuff Girls episode.  There are quite a few such problems in the film though this is one of the most glaring.

The acting is fine but only Izzard’s koala bear is given any interesting dialogue (and you can tell most of his funny bits were all ad-libbed).  Shatner and Walburton are pretty good as the villains (aside from being so far over-the-top they make Bobcat Goldthwait look sedated).  But when the most interesting characters of a movie are villains who still aren’t that compelling you know you’ve run into a disasterous dud of a Disney film (yeah, I like my alliteration).

The animation is the computer style that tries to add a bit of realism with showing you every hair or scail on the animals.  While interesting to look at I prefer the older style of animation than this new look that hasn’t yet been perfected.  And even if it is pretty to look at and does give you a couple chuckles that’s not saying much for a feature length animated film from Disney.  A big miss here for the house that Mickey built.  Hopefully the Pixar deal will breathe some much needed life into what used to be the best animated studio around because all its doing right now is making Dreamworks look much better by comparision.

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