Disney Sounds Call of The Wild

It’s widely regarded as Madagascar redux, but Disney insists there’s enough originality in it’s latest CG-animated feature to warrant a family trip to the multiplex this weekend. The Wild, another madcap comedy about New York City zoo animals that have to learn to survive in the African wilderness, arrives in 2,854 theaters across North America today sans the pervasive marketing fanfare that typically accompanies other Mouse House releases.

In The Wild, a lion named Samson (voiced by Kiefer Sutherland) assembles a team of animal pals to set out in search of his teenage son who has been accidentally crated off the Africa. The supporting cast of critters include a giraffe, a koala bear, a snake and some mischevious penguins. Other key voices are provided by James Belushi, Janeane Garofalo, Eddie Izzard and William Shatner.

Directed by Steve ‘Spaz’ Williams, The Wild was animated at C.O.R.E. Feature Animation in Toronto, which relied on SideEffects Software’s Houdini for animation and other visuals. Up to this point, C.O.R.E. had predominantly been involved in creating visual effects for such features as Dr. Dolittle and The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps.

The Wild has received positive reviews from major publications including The New York Times, L.A. Times and the Chicago Tribune, but is getting low marks from the majority of critics. It will be interesting to see if audiences turn out, having just plunked down more than $120 million for Fox Animation/Blue Sky’s Ice Age: The Meltdown, which has held the top spot for the past two weeks. The Wild will also be competing for laughs this weekend with the Weinstein Co.’s Scary Movie 4, the latest installment in the popular series that spoofs popular horror flicks.

Read more about Disney’s The Wild in the May issue of Animation Magazine, now available on newsstands including Barnes & Noble locations.