Animated comedy in which an odd assortment of animals from the New York Zoo discover what a jungle the city can be when one of their own is mistakenly shipped to the wild. When an adolescent lion (Greg Cipes) is accidentally shipped from the New York Zoo to Africa, his zoo pals, including Samson the lion (voice of Kiefer Sutherland), Benny the squirrel (Jim Belushi), Bridget the giraffe (Janeane Garofalo), Larry the Anaconda (Richard Kind), Kazar the wildebeest (William Shatner) and Nigel the koala bear (Eddie Izzard) must put aside their differences to help bring him back.
A cuddly koala who wants to be fierce, a squirrel in love with a sarcastic giraffe, an addle-pated anaconda, and a lion with a secret set off from their cozy zoo to rescue the lion's adolescent cub from an accidental kidnapping. After braving the dangers of the big city and stealing a boat, they find themselves in the African jungle, where a renegade herd of wildebeest have decided they want to change their position on the food chain (understandable, really). The Wild is hodgepodge--it's never clear why these mismatched creatures are friends and plot elements seem haphazardly plucked from Finding Nemo, Madagascar, and Ice Age 2: The Meltdown (though the latter two were made at the same time as The Wild, so it's just unfortunate for this movie that they came out first). Despite a general air of manic desperation, The Wild does have its strengths: The animation is richly realistic, leading to some gorgeous depictions of light (not exactly a selling point for kids, but adults can appreciate it). Several characters pop out--William Shatner (Star Trek, Boston Legal) is effectively scary as the cult-leader/choreographer of the wildebeest; and comedian Eddie Izzard lends some of his trademark smart and silly humor to Nigel, the disgruntled koala bear. Successful bits and pieces don't make for a great movie, but they keep The Wild from the brink of disaster. --Bret Fetzer
Ryan, a lion cub, worships his father, Sampson (Kiefer Sutherland), the brawny, brave, uncontested king of a New York City zoo. The film opens as Ryan listens adoringly as Sampson recounts yet another tale of roaring wildebeest into submission on the African savannah. While the zoo animals cavort, Ryan slips into a metal crate bound overseas for a chance to see "the wild" for himself. Now Sampson, with the help of his loyal friends Benny the squirrel (James Belushi), Nigel the koala bear (Eddie Izzard), Bridget the giraffe (Janeane Garafalo), and Larry the snake (Richard Kind), must brave the New York City jungle and then the actual jungle to save his son from the clutches of a crazed wildebeest with aspirations to carnivorousness (William Shatner). To make things worse, Sampson confesses that his heroic stories were fabrications; he's completely lost in his wild surroundings, unable to fight off a rabid poodle or eat a sassy hyrax. Since Antz hit our screens in 1993, computer-animated films about chatty animals have proliferated, but The Wild is perhaps the first that is heavily influenced by its immediate predecessors, taking a little plot from Madagascar, adding healthy doses of the Ice Age films, and borrowing heavily from the father-son sentiments of The Lion King (the animals actually pass a Times Square theatre showing
). However, originality isn't the draw here: it's the world-class voice-acting by Hollywood heavies, and the non-stop slapstick antics that will have children screaming with delight. Amid all the ridiculousness, parents will appreciate the wry asides by Eddie Izzard's koala bear.