By Mark Saldana
Rating: 2 (Out of 4 Stars)
Daniel Defoe’s novel about fictional castaway Robinson Crusoe has inspired multiple sequels and interpretations in cinema and television. The latest one is a Belgian-French produced animated film that tells a version of Crusoe’s story from the perspective of the animals he befriends on the island. Despite the potential for a fun animated family movie, the writers and directors behind this project manage to make what is possibly the dullest and least funny animated feature of the year. Though children might be adequately entertained with the film, adults in tow will desire more than what this movie offers.
After having spent some time marooned on an island, Robinson Crusoe (Yuri Lowenthal) gets picked up by a ship of pirates. As Crusoe recounts the details behind his situation, his best friend, a parrot who goes by Mak (David Howard Thornton), but named Tuesday by Crusoe, tells a couple of mice his version of the story. Mak and his fellow animal friends have lived a mostly uneventful life on their island. That is; until Crusoe lands there and attempts to set up a camp.
Having never witnessed a human being, Mak and his buddies fear Crusoe, but at the same time are intrigued by him. Eventually, he wins their trust and the animals help him set up a shelter and collect food for survival. Unfortunately, Crusoe isn’t the only one to land on the island. A pair of stowaway cats have also landed and are only interested in capturing Mak for one of their meals.
Written by Lee Christopher, Domonic Paris, Graham Weldon, and directed by Vincent Kesteloot and Ben Stassen, The Wild Life would have been more appropriately titled The Mild Life. That is what this movie offers–mostly benign and unexciting entertainment. The animation may look gorgeous and colorful and the protagonists may have their charms, but the writing does little with these characters and the humor just isn’t there. I may have smiled during a few of the movies moments, but I cannot recall one single time that I actually laughed.
In fact, I didn’t hear too many people (including children) laughing heartily at the screening I attended. Some of the younger children grew a bit restless, while the more mature ones sat and veg’ed out at the images. The story doesn’t really teach children any valuable lessons or morals, but merely tells a castaway tale that doesn’t go very far.
For the most part, the unknown voice cast performs well, but their characters are just as dull as the story and plot. I also found it very peculiar that this movie got a theatrical release here in the U.S., because the whole thing has the makings of a straight-to-video/television movie. I cannot in any way recommend spending either matinee prices or top dollar to see this film. This is one that the younger children will probably enjoy and can watch at home while the adults have better things to do.