MOVIE REVIEW- Don't bother: Skip 'Wild,' look at the DVDs
Creative bankruptcy" is a relative term. The Scary Movie series assembles plots, scenes, lines, and characters from other movies in new contexts and calls it satire. The Wild does the same thing and calls it original.
Well, it may look original if you haven't seen The Lion King, Finding Nemo, Madagascar, Ice Age and Chicken Little. But even then it won't be very funny.
In the New York Zoo, Samson (voiced by Kiefer Sutherland), a lion with a fierce reputation, is waiting impatiently for his son, Ryan (Greg Cipes), to "find his roar" (the leonine equivalent of his voice changing). Ryan, who was born in captivity, is frustrated by his inability to live up to his father's expectations, and escapes from the zoo.
While Ryan's being shipped off to an unspecified African country, Samson and his pals follow him to the pier with the help of some pigeons. (Couldn't Jack Bauer have had Phoebe track him with satellites? Oh, that's another Sutherland role. Never mind.) The entourage includes Benny the Squirrel (James Belushi); the object of his affection, Bridget the Giraffe (Janeane Garofalo); Nigel the Koala (Eddie Izzard), who's embarrassed that his plush likeness is the best seller in the zoo's gift shop; and Larry the Anaconda (Richard Kind).
They steal a boat and follow Ryan's ship to Africa. In Madagascar, the lion and giraffe were joined by a zebra and a hippo on their trip from Central Park Zoo to Africa. It took four writers to come up with this variation, which again has one token female.
While the first half of The Wild is derivative but sometimes amusing, the second half becomes painful to watch– and speaking of watch, you'll be looking at yours frequently. From Ice Age: The Meltdown comes a production number built around the locals– wildebeests led by Kazar (William Shatner)– treating one of the visitors as a god.
Someone is always being separated from or rejoining the group during Samson's intercontinental "Finding Ryan" quest, and by the end many (wild)life lessons have been learned as the animals sit by the phone awaiting news of a sequel.
The animals start their real lives at night when the zoo closes– shades of Toy Story! Penguins make a cameo appearance, but Madagascar had them before they became so popular. If the Samson-Ryan story doesn't remind you of The Lion King, the marquee for the Broadway show will in a Times Square sequence that's a product-placement bonanza.
Director Steve "Spaz" Williams has a background in visual effects, so his computer-animated feature looks good, with animal hair on a par with the best of them. Psychedelic chameleons are a good touch; if they're not original, at least I can't peg where they're borrowed from.
Although recycling is admirable in other situations, there's no reason to go to the theater to see a collection of elements you've got on DVD at home.