Computer-assisted animation has gotten so sharp, detailed and fluid that it’s almost a given that any animated film with any ambition at all is going to look sharp.
“The Wild Life,” a European riff on the story of Robinson Crusoe, is no exception. The colors are vibrant, the sea, palm trees, birds, bird-feathers and Crusoe’s red hair are almost photo-realistic.
But as a kids’ cartoon, “Wild Life” is a an utter dud. It’s a comic version of the tale told from the point of view of the animals on board various ships, and on the island where Crusoe (voiced by Yuri Lowenthal) is shipwrecked. And there isn’t a single laugh in it.
A red parrot Crusoe names “Tuesday” (Jay Jones) tells the story to a couple of rats on the pirate ship that rescues Crusoe. And his version of this classic adventure presents the intrepid castaway as a klutz who can’t walk without tripping, can’t shoot straight and wouldn’t have survived without the help of the animals there, or fruity/fishy bounties of the remote Pacific rock where he was marooned.
There are evil, carnivorous shipwrecked cats out to kill him, and eat the other wildlife (tapir, etc.). The critters, to a one, look at every Crusoe action with the same worried scowl. He is the real threat, to them.
“This is NOT good.”
Rats with Brit accents wisecrack at each other — “You are one kidney short of a meat pie!”
The parrot longs to escape “paradise” and see the world he suspects is just over the horizon.
It’s got drunken pirates singing sea chanteys (So drunk they can’t tell port from starboard. Or maybe that was the screenwriters.) and the most reliable adventure yarn of all time to work with.
And none of it is the least bit funny.
But again, at least the animation’s passable.
MPAA Rating:PG for mild action/peril and some rude humor
Cast: The voices of Yuri Lowenthal, Jay Jones, Debi Tinsley, others.
Credits: Written and directed by Vincent Kesteloot, Ben Stassen. A Lionsgate/Studiocanal release.
Running time: 1:30