What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that film includes some scenes where the lion cub is frightened by noises, darkness, and a storm at sea. The primary villains are hostile, shadowy wildebeests who perform "African" ritual dances and chants, with comic choreography, and announce an intention to seize power by becoming "predators" and "carnivores." Their efforts to eat the other characters lead to a conflict. The wildebeests live in a volcano cave, so lighting is red and fiery; eventually the volcano explodes and the friends barely escape (some tension created). A squirrel with a crush on a female giraffe makes a couple of sexual references (he rides a goose "bareback" and uses this moment to make a sexual advance toward her; he considers his size in comparison to the giraffe). The father lion lies to his son about his own past, and must eventually confess and be forgiven. Characters are stereotyped by nationality or ethnicity: a Canadian goose says "Eh"; an "East Indian" pigeon speaks with accent and dances as if in a Bollywood movie; a British koala bear is snobbish.
What's the story?
In THE WILD, Samson (Kiefer Sutherland) and son Ryan (Greg Cipes) live in a NYC zoo, fed every day and surrounded by friends -- a squirrel named Benny (James Belushi), sensible giraffe Bridget (Janeane Garofalo), a koala called Nigel "from the streets of London" (Eddie Izzard), and goofy snake Larry (Richard Kind). By day they perform for human visitors; by night they leave their cages and head to the ice rink. Ryan brings on a life-changing crisis when he hides out in a container used to ship animals. Arriving at the gate just in time to see his son being hauled off and screaming "Help me!", Sam decides to find out where the truck is headed, threatening a pigeon, the jittery and heavily accented Hamir: "Just tell me where the green boxes go!" he hisses. The friends make their way to an island jungle, where they are threatened by a tribe of real wildebeests, led by the ambitious Kazar (William Shatner in full-on bluster).
Is it any good?
Been there, done that; this movie recycles trite story lines seen in hit kids' movies, and doesn't nearly do them justice. The Wild follows yet another animated father and son, both wanting earnestly to win over the other. In fact, every element of the movie is recognizable from another, better one: The father must rescue his missing son (Finding Nemo). A group of city zoo animals travel to a jungle (Madagascar, not exactly better, just first). The bad characters perform "tribal" rituals and threaten violence (take your pick, including The Lion King and King Kong).
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the ways that both father and son learn from one another. How do the friends each contribute a talent or specific energy to the adventure, so the movie can offer lessons in diversity and generosity?