The Wild Life

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
The Wild Life Movie Poster Image
Forgettable talking-animal adventure has some scares.
  • PG
  • 2016
  • 90 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 5 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Viewers will learn the basic plot line of the Robinson Crusoe story.

Positive Messages

There's a strong message of teamwork and collaboration; the animals work together to help each other and Crusoe and admit (for the most part) when they were wrong about him. Don't give up on your dreams, but also be happy with your home and family.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Robinson Crusoe is kind, intelligent, and hardworking. He cares for his dog and later the animals he meets on the island. Aynsley protects Robinson and Mak. The animals, particularly Mak, care for Robinson and work together to defeat the cats. Mak is curious and has big dreams. Kiki is suspicious and pessimistic for much of the movie, but she finally changes her tune. The cats are thoroughly evil (especially matriarch May).

Violence & Scariness

Mean cats are constantly threatening and attacking the other characters (both to hunt and just to be cruel). They spearhead a plan that results in a ship burning and the death of a supporting character. Later in the movie, there's a long fight sequence between them and the other animals; characters fall off ledges or are injured in other ways, and a fire eventually starts. Pirates threaten Crusoe and throw knives at him; they also use muskets and fire cannons. Crusoe also uses a musket, firing bullets at targets and trying to hunt (but giving up); the island animals fire the weapon at the cats. The storm and shipwreck early in the movie could upset some kids, as could a scene in which Mak and his friends are in peril during the same storm. Crusoe is knocked out several times.

Sexy Stuff

May, the cat ringleader, has kittens; she rubs her swollen belly while pregnant.


Insult language including "bloody," "green-gilled landlubber," "dummy," "shut it," "bonkers," "looney," "nuts," "scurvy."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Pirates drink rum/grog, and some of them look and act drunk (played for laughs).

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Wild Life is an animated adventure inspired by Daniel Defoe's classic novel Robinson Crusoe about a British castaway (in this version, Crusoe winds up on an island inhabited by talking animals). There's quite a lot of peril: storms, a shipwreck, fires, narrow escapes, etc. Other violent/intense scenes include the sad death of a supporting animal character and an extended fight between a horde of mean cats and Crusoe and his animal friends. Armed pirates shoot muskets and cannons and throw knives, and they also swig enough rum to look and act drunk. All of that said, the movie has a fast pace and a light tone overall, so most younger elementary schoolers and up will likely be able to handle it. And it does offer messages about teamwork, collaboration, and friendship.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bySue V September 10, 2016

Terrible, terrible movie

It was essentially a 90 minute chase scene. Not only do I hate chase scenes, I can't imagine what it will do to my kids' sleep patterns. Nightmare fod... Continue reading
Parent of a 11, 11, 12, 13, 14, and 16-year-old Written byLoveinwhitehouses September 11, 2016


I just watched it a few hours ago and it's ok but it does have some scene's that most 8 year olds can handle.
Teen, 14 years old Written byrosegolden September 8, 2018


This has to be one of the most boring movies ever. The movie itself is a repetitive chase scene with a few breaks. There's also the weird villains that sud... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old April 15, 2018

Better Than Norm Of The North

This movie is also from the creators of Norm Of The North which is horrible, but this is much better. In my opinion its similar to Cast Away and Madagascar but... Continue reading

What's the story?

THE WILD LIFE is based on the 18th-century novel Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (and, in fact, the movie -- which was produced in Europe -- is called Robinson Crusoe everywhere but in the United States). In this version, the shipwrecked British map maker (voiced by Yuri Lowenthal) ends up on an island filled with animals that can speak to one another. There he meets a curious parrot named Mak (David Howard Thornton), who befriends Crusoe and his loyal dog, Aynsley (Doug Stone). Mak's island friends include sweet-but-suspicious kingfisher Kiki (Lindsay Torrance); Rosie (Laila Berzins), a perpetually hungry Tapir; Scrubby (Joey Camen), a half-blind old goat; clever chameleon Carmello (Colin Metzger); and others. Unfortunately for Crusoe and his new friends, a pair of conniving, vengeful cats also survived the shipwreck and is now making it their mission -- and that of their impending offspring -- to destroy Crusoe.

Is it any good?

Forgettable and bland, with only a couple of truly swashbuckling sequences, this animated adventure will amuse only the youngest moviegoers, but not most Pixar-spoiled older kids or adults. Although the storyline of The Wild Life is coherent and easy for even the youngest kids to understand, it's also boring and poorly executed, with some pretty big holes. (How did Mak and all of his friends end up on the island if there aren't others of their species there? What's the deal with the gold ring that pops up a couple of times, then disappears?) Yes, there are a couple of adventurous scenes -- like the big, climactic battle between Robinson/his animal squad and the army of vengeful cats -- but it's too little, too late.

There are so many options in family entertainment these days that, even with its faults, The Wild Life definitely doesn't rank among the worst -- but that doesn't mean it's worth the cost of admission. The creepy cats aren't particularly compelling villains, and Mak and his animal friends, while cute, aren't anywhere near as engaging as the characters in Zootopia or as funny as those in The Secret Life of Pets. For a movie night in with the under-7 set, this is a fine boredom cure, but The Wild Life isn't likely to entertain older kids -- and certainly not parents.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence and scariness in The Wild Life. Does it all feel necessary to the story? How much scary stuff can young kids handle?

  • How do the characters demonstrate teamwork? Why is that an important character strength?

  • Why do you think stories with talking animals are so popular? What are some of your favorites?

  • For those familiar with the original Robinson Crusoe story -- what do you think of this version? How did the filmmakers change it to be more appealing to kids?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love funny animals

Themes & Topics

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