Disney used to be the undisputed leader in animation, but lately the studio has been trailing behind its competitors, and in more ways than one. Nowhere is this more evident than in The Wild, the second film Disney has released since abandoning traditional hand-drawn animation for the computer-generated kind. (The first was Chicken Little.)
The movie concerns a rather domesticated lion who lives in a New York City zoo but one day catches a boat for Africa with some of his buddies of various species—and if that premise sounds familiar, it may be because you saw, or at least heard of, the DreamWorks cartoon Madagascar when it came out less than a year ago. Animated films of this quality take a few years to produce, so there's no need to assume the similarity is anything more than a coincidence; however, the proximity between the release dates for the two films does invite comparison, and, quite apart from the fact that Disney was beaten to the punch, it certainly doesn't help The Wild that it is the less entertaining and memorable of the two films.
This time, the story concerns a lion named Samson (voiced by Kiefer Sutherland), who roars for the crowds and regales his son Ryan (Greg Cipes) with tall tales about his exploits back on the Dark Continent. Ryan likes these stories, but he is also frustrated by them, because they remind him that he is not old enough to roar like his old man—or should that be old mane? Anyway, whenever he does try to roar, he barely gets beyond a meow, and everyone at the zoo—human guests, animal residents—laughs at him, which fills Ryan with even more shame. One day Ryan hops a fence and loiters inside a cargo container that, he has been told, will take animals to "the wild"—and ...1