Over at The Hollywood Reporter, Frank Scheck has seen Disney’s The Wild – out tomorrow – and has posted a review of the apparently not-screened-for-critics movie. While he highlights the “impressive animation”, the “ultra-frenetic” direction seems to have left Frank with impressions of a “relentlessly loud and ultimately exhausting exercise”, though he misses the point with his “bottom line” comment of “Isn’t it too soon for a remake of Madagascar?” that highlights the uphill struggle The Wild is having to face even before release. Read the entire Report here:

The Wild

By Frank Scheck
Bottom line: Isn’t it too soon for a remake of Madagascar?

NEW YORK – This latest CGI effort from Disney is all too indicative of the current glut of animated films. Lacking distinctive personality or humor and unfortunately coming across as an all-too-soon remake of last year’s Madagascar, The Wild is unlikely to achieve the sort of box office numbers garnered by its predecessor, though its holiday weekend release should help.

Yet another tale of animals transported from the cushy environs of a New York zoo to the perils of the jungle, the film depicts the adventures of a lion (Kiefer Sutherland), a giraffe (Janeane Garofalo), a squirrel (Jim Belushi), an anaconda (Richard Kind) and a koala (Eddie Izzard) as they attempt to rescue the lion’s cub (Greg Cipes) after he is mistakenly shipped to the wild.

Providing the emotional hook to the story is the lion having to come to grips with the fact that he has lived his whole life in a protected environment, and the struggle of his young cub to find his “roar”. Oh, and there’s a love story of sorts between the giraffe and the squirrel.

Directed in ultra-frenetic style by the aptly nicknamed Steve “Spaz” Williams, the film is a relentlessly loud and ultimately exhausting exercise only partially leavened by the usual heavy doses of wisecracking humor and visual gags. Despite numerous clever touches, the film isn’t entertaining enough to lift it above its general air of familiarity, though tykes with short memories should find enough to amuse them.

The impressive animation is rendered in a more realistic style than usual, with the animals depicted in a down-to-earth fashion that only slightly conflicts with the fact that they’re engaged in such activities as steering boats. But while their visual details are impressive, the characters lack the personality of those in such efforts as The Lion King, the stage version of which gets a prominent plug in this film.

The voice talents generally get the job done. Sutherland’s impressive tones provide the proper gravitas as the loving lion father; Garofalo gives her giraffe an amusing air of exasperation; Belushi scores laughs with his love-struck squirrel; and William Shatner bellows with gusto as a wildebeest. The funniest contributions come from Izzard’s wittily acerbic koala and Lenny Venito and Joseph Siravo’s Brooklyn-accented alligators.

Buena Vista Pictures Distribution
Walt Disney Pictures Presents
A Hoytboy Pictures and Sir Zip Studios Production
A Contrafilm Production

Director: Steve “Spaz” Williams
Producers: Clint Goldman, Beau Flynn
Screenwriters: Ed Dector, John J. Strauss, Mark Gibson, Philip Halprin
Story by: Mark Gibson, Philip Halprin
Production designer and art director: Chris Farmer
Editors: V. Scott Balcerek, Steven L. Wagner
Composer: Alan Silvestri
Supervising character designer: Erich Rigling

Samson: Kiefer Sutherland
Benny: Jim Belushi
Nigel: Eddie Izzard
Bridget: Janeane Garofalo
Kazar: William Shatner
Larry: Richard Kind
Ryan: Greg Cipes

MPAA rating G
Running time – 85 minutes

– Source: Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter