There’s Nothing Remotely Interesting about The Wild Life
- Ryan Duncan
- Updated Nov 23, 2016
With its lackluster animation, sluggish pacing, and one-dimensional characters, this latest retelling of Robinson Crusoe would have done better distracting children as a Saturday morning cartoon. 1 out of 5.
On a tiny island in the South Pacific, a group of friendly animals live in picturesque harmony. However, a parrot named Mak (David Howard) has grown bored with the endless repetition of island life, convinced that real adventure lies just beyond the horizon. One day after a chaotic storm, the animals discover a broken ship has washed ashore, carrying with it Robinson Crusoe (Yuri Lowenthal) and his dog Aynsley. The animals resolve to help the wayward adventurer, unaware that two savage cats have also survived the wreck, and are determined to make Crusoe pay for the years they spent living in the darkness of the ship’s hull. As all sorts of mischief ensues, the friends must work together with their newfound human to save their island home.
Not much, to be honest. The film is relatively clean, and doesn't present too much objectionable material for young viewers. Other than that, there’s precious little about The Wild Life which deserves praise.
Practically everything. For starters, the film is mind-numbingly dull. One would think the creators of The Wild Life could make being shipwrecked mildly interesting, but Crusoe's time on the island is unbearably boring. The plot is thinly strung together by loose events, and to make matters worse, the characters are utterly forgettable. Crusoe himself is largely there just to fall down, and aside from Mak the parrot, viewers will likely leave the theater without remembering a single name.
The animation, at first glance, looks passable, but once the story gets rolling the screen fills with a lot of rigid movement. Worst of all though, are the voices. A few of the animals possess voices so grating parents will likely be searching for a reprieve halfway through the movie. Adding insult to injury, The Wild Life is built almost entirely on wooden dialogue. All in all, this is not one of the summer's better films.
Christian Worldview Elements / Spiritual Themes
The Wild Life does depict two minor moments of spiritual awareness. After losing a friend, Crusoe erects a cross over his grave, and a dinner prayer is given before a big feast. However, these moments are not overt, and even the dinner prayer is referred to as “a moment of silence."
CAUTIONS (may contain spoilers)
- MPAA Rating: PG for slapstick violence and perilous situations
- Language/Profanity: Squeaky clean.
- Sexuality/Nudity: A few butt jokes, mostly at the expense of the tapir. A cat gets pregnant and gives birth though nothing is shown.
- Violence/Frightening/Intense: Muskets are shot, several animals are almost shot, musket powder catches fire and explodes, cats bite and scratch characters, a goat and lizard fall over a cliff but survive, the animals think a boat is “dying," cats almost eat birds, a dog and cats fight, pirates talk about getting hanged, pirates attack Crusoe and get hit by a rowboat, Aynsley dies in a fire, a lot of slapstick humor at Crusoe's expense.
Drugs/Alcohol: Several pirates drink rum and are shown to be inebriated; the animals have a “pineapple hangover."
The Bottom Line
RECOMMENDED FOR: Parents hoping to distract small children for an hour, people looking for a quiet, dark place to take a nap.
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR: Teens, adults, animation lovers, literature fans, movie lovers, Pixar enthusiasts.
The Wild Life, directed by Vincent Kesteloot and Ben Stassen, opened in theaters September 9, 2016; available for home viewing November 29, 2016. It runs 90 minutes, and stars Yuri Lowenthal, David Howard, Laila Berzins, Joey Camen, and Colin Metzger. Watch the trailer for The Wild Life here.
Ryan Duncan is an Editor for Crosswalk.com.
Publication date: September 9, 2016