Hot Take: Very juvenile. Impressive to look at. Tedium eventually sets in but it distracts for a while.
I can’t say I expected much from The Wild Life. If you want to turn your brain off for about an hour and a half and 3D gags are your thing, the latest animated adventure loosely based on the story of Robinson Crusoe might be in your wheelhouse. Or at the very least, your treehouse.
To accommodate a (much) younger audience, the Crusoe tale is dumbed down. In The Wild Life, Crusoe is often seasick, very clumsy and sort of a dunderhead. Unlike the novel, where his biggest nemesis would be cannibals and pirates, the animated Crusoe battles dastardly cats and kittens and occasionally his own shadow, or so it seems. With the help of some of the island’s animals where he is shipwrecked, Crusoe builds a fancy treehouse complete with indoor plumbing and a water slide (mainly there to give the filmmaker a few more 3D gags to entertain the young lads and lassies watching).
As the story unravels from one chase scene to the next, there’s an underlying message warning to not judge a book by its cover. I think. Or is it don’t trust cats? Heck, who really cares? This is a talking animal adventure filled with chases, sight gags, pratfalls and one liners. It’s harmless other than the damage it does to your brain if you try to give the story any sort of weight. It’s like eating a bag of marshmallows and washing it down with Hawaiian Punch. (Tropical flavor, of course!)
Kudos to the animators, though. It’s spectacular to look at. The rest of the movie is subpar including generic voice talent and the aforementioned dumbed down script. So, if you’re looking to shut your brain off for 90 minutes, need an overpriced helping hand with babysitting or an excuse to get movie popcorn, The Wild Life is still only a last resort option. But it’s an option nonetheless.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- Impressive Animation
Credit the animators for doing a heck of a job with making the scenery come to life and the action paced fast enough for the younger audience to stay entertained.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
From the change in the storyline to the generic actors supplying the voice talent, The Wild Life could easily be delivered in an all white box labeled “CARTOON” and it would be as effective.
- Monotonous For the Older Crowd
And what is meant by older would be older than 9. The chase scenes are fun to look at but they become repetitive and you can only watch Crusoe trip and fall over some pots and pans so many times.
- Did the Story Really Have to Be Altered This Much?
As movies like Inside Out and even Kubo and the Two Strings to a lesser extent have proven, the story doesn’t have to be exclusively for kids for kids to enjoy the movie. Parents are people, too.