“The Wolf and the Lion” may be cloying, kid-friendly claptrap, a “nature” film about the unlikely upbringing of a couple of cubs on an idyllic island in Canada. But kids under the age of six won’t mind most of the stuff their parents — some parents, anyway — will roll their eyes at.
But ohmygodohmygodohmyGOD! The lion cub and the wolf pup in this are get-them-their-own-Youtube Channel adorable.
There’s little that’s serious about this cutesy “road comedy.” Let’s label it that, because all the raised-as-brothers business and back-story about how the lion and the wolf came to life with ringleted redhead Alma (Molly Kunz) on an island in the North Woods is just a prologue for the two siblings, all grown up, going on the lam.
A hunters shoots the mother of the lion cub in Africa, just to fetch the cub and fly him off to be in the circus. The snow wolf pup has an easier time of it. His “she wolf” mom brings him to stay at Alma’s place because she was kind enough to free her from a net meant to trap her.
It takes a miracle to pair these critters up, and that’s just what this dizzy script provides. The cub’s plane crashes and he winds up in an eagle’s nest. When the eagle shoves him out, Alma (Molly Kunz) just happens to be taking a nature walk right beneath the tree and catches the kitten.
She’s come to her late grandpa’s island after his death to reflect, just a pit stop on her way to a future as a concert pianist with the L.A. Philharmonic, she hopes. But the off-the-book animals thrown into her care change that. She won’t let Wildlife Protection have them, even though they’re looking for the missing lion.
She won’t let the obnoxious, dorky city-boy wolf-researcher (Charlie Carrick) dart and tag or remove snow wolves from her island. And she won’t admit to godfather Joe (the Great Graham Greene) that she’s doing this, or that she’s in over her head. She’s got “control” she figures.
“Holy dancing and whistling Jesus!” Joe replies, speaking for the audience. “You ain’t in control of squat!”
Events conspire to prove him right.
French director Gilles de Maistre started his career in conventional dramas but migrated to nature-friendly kiddie fare at some point. He is on his most entertaining ground just following his feline/canine stars around, letting them tear up the book-and-art covered cabin in the woods, helping each other out of jams as they run from circus and Federal hunters who would trap them.
The human stuff is entirely too predictable. And the whole thing is so Disney sweet and cutesey it’ll make your teeth hurt.
The comedy comes from the self-described “very important scientist” and his feud with the “nutcase” who kept a lion and a snow wolf in her house. It’s seriously lame. The drama comes from the hunt, the abuse circus animals face (drugs, declawing, etc).
There isn’t much here, but what’s the cardinal rule of filmed entertainment for kids? “First, do no harm.”
Unless your child is inclined to run up and hug wild things in the woods, or at the zoo, mark “The Wolf and the Lion” down as “harmless” and let the kids have at it.
Rating: PG for thematic elements, language and some peril
Cast: Molly Kunz, Charlie Carrick, Rhys Slack, Evan Buliung and Graham Greene
Credits: Directed by Gilles de Maistre, scripted by Prune de Maistre. A Blue Fox release of a Studio Canal film
Running time: 1:39