Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Wild (Williams, 2006)

The direction for Disney’s latest venture into computer animation, The Wild, has been placed into the hands of a grown man named ‘Spaz’. This should be our first clue that what is contained within is not exactly going to be something that is going to strive to enlighten our youngsters with wisdom or moral insights. The second clue we have is early on in the film when a squirrel refers to his ‘bling’. You see, I could explain to you that the squirrel had just acquired the trinket in question in order to offer it to the unlikely object of his affection – a giraffe perhaps a hundred times his size – but then I would start to sound like a crazy person. Best also not to report that in this G-rated film, the possibility of future intimate ‘relations’ between these creatures is definitely implied. This is what passes for humor in this dud of a film in which we know that jokes are intended because of the actors’ inflections, but no laughs arrive because they are firing with blanks. I’m not sure what is more surprising – that it took four writers to compose this disaster or that four writers were willing to take credit for the finished product. Don’t blame the animators though. The animal creations are mostly fantastic to behold and there are a couple of sequences that truly deserve to belong to a different film. However, what good is the best animation if it is in the service of sustained idiocy and lazy sentimentalism? Mr. Spaz has a talented group of voice actors to work with and yet pretty much everyone sounds like they’re auditioning for the next wise-ass supporting role on Friends. It is unfortunate that so many family films can only think to find humor in characters crashing into things and sarcastically undercutting each other with the most pedestrian of put-downs. Ethnic stereotypes stand in for characterization (the Canadian geese talk like hosers, eh?) and, not surprisingly, the film leads to a conclusion involving a violent struggle and a resolution being achieved through physical force and intimidation. Not only is it probably not the best viewing experience for children, it is entirely boring and predictable for adults. You know a film is bad when it makes you long for the comic hijinks and sensitivity of Ice Age.



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