I didn’t know The Wild Life was coming out this year. I didn’t know it even really existed, to be honest. The Wild Life is a Belgian animated film, that has now been given some English voice actors and slapped down to America.
But this film had no advertising. I never saw a trailer, I barely saw the poster, and I would have never really known it was released today if it wasn’t for the fact that they sent me an invite to a screening.
Here is my guess. I just assume that this involves a group of 4-5 animals, who talk and go on wacky adventures together. You know, stuff from the first decade of the millennium.
Shit, there is at least six animals in this picture already, so I am already wrong.
This movie starts off with a group of pirates led by Long John Silver (Dennis O’Connor), seeing a signal fire on an island, taking the one man to their boat to find out his story. But screw that, the parrot, Mac (David Howard) has the better story.
Mac was living on a small island, bored out of his mind. He was friends with everyone on the island. Suspiciously, the entire island only had one of every animal only, except for bugs and fish. There is Rosie the Tapir (Laila Berzins), Epi the Echidna (Sandy Fox), Scrubby the Blind Goat (Joey Camen), Carmello the Chameleon (Colin Metzger), Pango the Pangolin (Jeff Doucette), and Kiki a blue bird thing (Marieve Herington).
Mac believes there is a world outside of the island, and when a ship crashes onto the island he finally has proof! And what is on that ship? Well, a dog (Doug Stone), some cats (I don’t know most of their names, but Kyle Hebert did one of them), and a man named Robinson Crusoe (Yuri Lowenthal). There they learn to live in harmony and trust, build sweet stuff and have good memories.
Oh and the cats are the jerk bad guys, because cats are assholes as we all know.
Yep, that dude is totally about to join an animal orgy.
I did not know I was watching a secret Robinson Crusoe movie. If I did, I might have been even more reluctant to go, and yes, I am comparing that to generic diverse talking animal adventure film. But it was called Robinson Crusoe in its original release and went for a cooler title, but one that really doesn’t describe the film at all now.
And technically this really has fuck all to do with the book. We have the character and a shipwreck, but everything is just a unique story at this point.
I ended up enjoying the animation style, the animals were all very detailed with their own basic personalities. I very much appreciated that the animals were basically given real names and not just called Goat-y and Tapira or shit like that (Pango aside). And even more exciting was that these characters were all voiced by non celebrities. Some of them are real voice work artists, some of them have only one IMDB actor credit, but none of them are big actors just to sell the movie, regardless of voice work talent. That is a nice change of pace.
The issues with the film are that the story is simple. Like, beyond simple. Survival wasn’t a real issue in the movie. Pirates barely mattered. No, it was all hunky-dory. The main issue was mean cats trying to survive off more than bugs, so you know, eventually they try to kill everyone. I fell asleep early on because it took so long to really get to the point. The decision to make 95% of the movie as a flashback is a poor tool, why not just start in the damn beginning.
And yes, I do get annoyed that this small island apparently has the most fruit food ever. And that it is never addressed why these six or so animals live here and none of them have mates or a real way to have gotten to that island. All of the nitpicking really boils down to is that they just didn’t really think this whole thing through or care about the holes that might exist.
The Wild Life will probably not be successful, because it isn’t Pixar and Disney. The animation was cool, the voice work was nice, but the story was too basic and not exciting enough to see again.
2 out of 4.