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Steve 'Spaz' Williams
Kiefer Sutherland, James Belushi, Eddie Izzard, Janeane Garofalo, William Shatner, Richard Kind, Greg Cipes, Colin Cunningham, Colin Hay, Miles Marsico
Writing Credits:
Ed Decter, Mark Gibson, Philip Halprin, John J. Strauss

A whole new breed of tourist.

Go wild with the hysterical adventure the New York Daily News calls "truly infectious!" Disney uncages the laughs in the hip and hilarious comedy The Wild. When a band of furry friends escape from the city zoo, they discover that New York City is the biggest, craziest jungle of all. Now, faced with a new journey and the challenge of a lifetime, they must work together if they are going to survive on the outside. The Wild is ferocious fun that will have your whole family roaring with laughter.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$9.684 million on 2854 screens.
Domestic Gross
$37.371 million.

Rated G

Widescreen 1.78:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1

Runtime: 82 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 9/12/2006

• Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
• “Real Wild Child” Music Video
• “Eddie Izzard Unleashed” Featurette
• “Meet Colin: The Rock Hyrax” Featurette
• Sneak Peeks


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


The Wild (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 11, 2006)

Anyone who desires to bemoan the lack of creativity in Hollywood will look toward 2006’s The Wild as Exhibit “A”. This Disney animated adventure focuses on Samson the lion (voiced by Kiefer Sutherland) and his pre-teen son Ryan (Greg Cipes). They live at the New York Zoo but Ryan wants to experience the wild. They also have tensions between them as Ryan finds it tough to live up to his dad’s legend.

Since Ryan dreams of a return to the wilderness, he hangs out in the “green boxes” used by a group that takes animals back to Africa. When the truck takes off with him in tow, however, Ryan regrets his choice. Samson gets the troops into action and we see how he and his fellow animals pursue Ryan’s return. The group includes Benny the squirrel (Jim Belushi) and his would-be girlfriend Bridget the giraffe (Janeane Garofalo) along with Nigel the koala (Eddie Izzard) and Larry the snake (Richard Kind). The movie follows their adventures as they attempt to retrieve Ryan.

While that story doesn’t directly rip-off 2005’s Madagascar, it comes a little too close for comfort. I don’t think the folks behind The Wild intended to plagiarize the earlier flick, mainly because it takes so long to develop animated projects; it’s not like they could whip out this sucker in less than a year from start to finish. Nonetheless, to the movie-going public, I’m sure Wild looked like an attempt to capitalize on the success of Madagascar, and that might be part of the reason the former only made $37 million – or $156 million less than Madagascar.

Or maybe the general lack of quality behind The Wild was the issue. Though it never becomes as weak and forgettable as flicks like Home on the Range or Dinosaur, this one comes with a real lack of inspiration. Occasionally we get a clever moment or two, but much of the flick follows the basic Disney template. The main plot melds Madagascar with Finding Nemo and throws in more than a little Lion King for good measure.

Derivative films can still entertain, so the forgettable plot of The Wild didn’t doom it to failure. Unfortunately, the absence of many particularly intriguing components drags down this clunker. The cast includes some decent names but none of them manage to rise above the level of the material. Sutherland appears especially miscast as Samson. He just doesn’t have a voice that translates well to the animated arena, and this means the lead role comes with very little personality.

None of the others manage to overcome the blandness of their characters, and the different personalities fail to mesh together. I get the feeling the filmmakers came up with generic roles and never thought about how these would connect to each other. In better flicks like A Bug’s Life or even Madagascar, the different characters form a nice little band. Here things remain disjointed and never turn into a coherent package.

I maintain a fondness for most things Disney and hoped that The Wild would at least offer decent entertainment. Unfortunately, it never involves the viewer. It remains curiously flat and forgettable from start to finish.

Footnote: stick through the end of the closing credits for a little more of Nigel.

The DVD Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B+/ Bonus D+

The Wild appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Although this wasn’t the strongest transfer I’ve seen for an animated flick, it seemed more than satisfying.

Few concerns affected sharpness. A couple of wide shots displayed minor softness, but nothing unusual developed. The majority of the flick presented excellent clarity and delineation. Jagged edges and shimmering appeared absent, and I noticed no signs of edge enhancement. In addition, the movie suffered from no source flaws.

The Wild featured a natural and vivid palette that the DVD replicated very well. Colors always came across with terrific clarity and life. The sumptuous hues seemed very well-rendered. Blacks also appeared deep and tight, while low-light shots were clean and smooth. This was a consistently positive picture.

I also liked the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of The Wild. Much of the movie favored the front channels, but the mix opened up well when appropriate. All the animal escapades gave us a lot of exciting sonic activity, and the soundfield matched the film nicely. Music always demonstrated positive stereo imaging, and the effects created a realistic and involving sense of atmosphere. When the action heated up, the surrounds added a fine layer of material that contributed some lively and engaging audio.

Audio quality seemed very positive. Dialogue always came across as natural and warm, and I detected no concerns related to edginess or intelligibility. Music appeared bright and dynamic, with concise highs and rich lows. Effects also were tight and realistic. Those elements betrayed no distortion, as they consistently appeared clean and accurate. The effects provided some strong bass response as well. The track wasn’t quite active enough to enter “A” territory, but it was still a very good mix.

Only some minor extras fill out the package. Five Deleted Scenes fill a total of four minutes and 50 seconds. We find “Benny’s Weird Dream” (0:43), “Back at the Zoo” (1:01), “Bridget and Larry Doomed” (0:37), “Back on the Boat” (1:16) and “Thumbman” (1:12). Most come in rough animation form; “Doomed” is the only one to boast final flick quality, while “Thumbman” mixes crude animation with a storyreel. None are particularly compelling, though “Boat” and “Zoo” offer a little extra character depth and we get an unused mother lion character in “Zoo”. “Thumbman” is mildly interesting in a trippy way, I must admit.

We can watch these with or without commentary from director Steve “Spaz” Williams and producer Clint Goldman. They tell us a little about the scenes and the production as well as the reasons they chopped out these clips. Their comments remain informative.

Next we get a music video for “Real Wild Child”. Everlife does a remake of the Iggy Pop song with less than memorable results. The video combines movie clips with some band shots. Yeah, the female member of the band are much more attractive than the Ig, but their version just redoes the song with that generic pop-rock tone so often found with Disney-friendly bands. It wasn’t ever much of a tune, but this edition renders it even less effective.

Two short featurettes finish the set. Eddie Izzard Unleashed goes for three minutes, 28 seconds and mostly shows the actor in the studio as he improvises. He also gives us a couple of remarks about his work, but the recording shots fill almost all the piece. These are moderately fun to see.

The two-minute and 18-second Meet Colin: The Rock Hyrax shows lighting lead Colin Cunningham and has a laugh at his egotism after he gets the part as the movie’s hyrax. A few crewmembers talk about how his elevation to voice talent changed him in this amusing little piece.

As the disc starts, we encounter a mix of ads. We find trailers for The Little Mermaid, Meet the Robinsons, Cars, and Airbuddies. These also appear in the disc’s Sneak Peeks domain along with promos for The Fox and the Hound, Twitches, Cinderella III, and Get Ed.

An uninspired melange of stories borrowed from other flicks, The Wild can’t overcome its derivative nature. Few parts of it ever manage to bring the screen to life, and this leaves us with a fairly dull adventure. The DVD offers very solid picture and audio as well as a small smattering of extras. Kids might enjoy this lackluster flick, but those who hope for something more will leave disappointed.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.0909 Stars Number of Votes: 11
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