“The Wild Life” stars Yuri Lowenthal, David Howard, Laila Berzins, Joey Camen, and Sandy Fox. Released in the United States on September 9, 2016, the film is about a group of animals who befriend a human when he got stranded on their island home.
The film is directed by Vincent Kesteloot and Ben Stassen, and it is loosely based on the novel, “Robinson Crusoe”, by Daniel Defoe. Before its release here, the film was released in Belgium on March 30, 2016 and in France on April 20, 2016 under the name, “Robinson Crusoe”. Clearly, since kids in the U.S. have no idea who Crusoe is, the filmmakers changed its name to “The Wild Life” for its United States release. So basically, we got ourselves an animated adaptation of Daniel Defoe’s novel that was published more than 290 years ago. I’m not very familiar with the source material, but from the looks of the trailer, it does look like it could be a decent family film with an interesting way of telling the story of Robinson Crusoe. The question is, does it work? Let’s swing on over and take a look.
For those who are unfamiliar with Robinson Crusoe, it’s about a man who gets stranded on a tropical island and lives there for thirty years. Sounds like a good story to tell to your kids, right? The film does give us that story, but it is being told from the perspective of the animals that are living on the island. Now that’s one way of keeping it family-friendly - by having talking animals in a Robinson Crusoe story. Why? Because kids like talking animals, that’s why. While it does sound good on paper, its execution on the big screen was pretty mediocre. I do think there were a few qualities that could make the concept work for both kids and adults, but in terms of how they tell it, it’s just as bitter as salt water. It also doesn’t help when they got characters that weren’t as memorable nor as dynamic as they wanted themselves to be. I did find the goat, Scrubby, a bit funny, so that’s a plus, but like the story, the characters were having a hard time finding some depth within themselves. The English voice cast doesn’t have a lot of familiar celebrities like most animated films do. However, I’m mostly familiar with Yuri Lowenthal, who voices Crusoe in the film. He’s pretty well known for voicing a lot of characters from cartoons, anime, and video games, such as Ben Tennyson from the Ben 10 franchise. But back to the voice cast, even though they’re not very well known, they did a decent job voicing their characters. There can be times where some of the voice acting can be a bit annoying, but aside from that, they’re all right. There’s not a lot to be said about the film’s animation. It’s just decent. It did offer a nice colorful experience for the kids, but compared to the other films with outstanding animation, it didn’t really stand out as much. The film also had some humor, because you can’t have an animated island adventure without some laughs, right? Sadly, it didn’t deliver some big laughs for me. There were some moments that made me chuckle, but if their goal was to make the jokes funnier for both kids and adults, they pretty much missed their mark. On the bright side, at least it wasn’t as obnoxious as the humor in Ice Age 5.
Overall, “The Wild Life” isn’t as wild as it wanted itself to be due to its mediocre storytelling, unmemorable characters, and its lack of big laughs. I think kids might enjoy it because of the talking animals and its colorful low-quality animation, but for the adults who may or may not be familiar with the source material, it’s a forgettable, yet harmless, animated treat that should be stranded on a deserted island. There are a lot of family films out there that are better than this, but if you’re still interested in seeing it, I would recommend seeing it at home. Some paradise this turned out to be...