" She came at me in sections. More curves than a scenic railway. "
— Fred Astaire, The Bandwagon

MRQE Top Critic

Almost Famous

Director Cameron Crowe extends his autobiographical homage to 70s rock —Risë Keller (DVD review...)

Patrick Fugit is Almost Famous

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Somewhere in the heart of The Wild is a parent-child conflict, that staple of Disney’s animated movies. This particular relationship between father and son isn’t very interesting, and is thankfully overshadowed by many wacky supporting characters and subplots. The result is an entertaining mess, though not a very memorable one. The DVD’s special features are sparse compared to other Disney releases. Perhaps the producers of this one realized that The Wild is not destined to be a classic.

The Lyin’ King

This lion doesn't have the staying power of The Lion King
This lion doesn’t have the staying power of The Lion King

With his large mane and fierce roar, Samson the Lion (voiced by Keifer Sutherland) is the undisputed king of the zoo in New York City. His son, Ryan (Greg Cipes), who can barely muster a meow, feels left out. Determined move out of his father’s shadow, Ryan escapes from the zoo, only to have second thoughts when he finds himself on a ship heading for Africa.

Samson figures out what has happened and sets off with some zoo buddies to rescue his son. It’s here that the movie starts to lose focus. His sidekicks include a giraffe (Janeane Garofalo), and a squirrel (James Belushi) who’s madly in love with her. There’s also Nigel, a British-accented koala (Eddie Izzard) who tends to overdramatize things. To add to the distraction are many cameos featuring wise-cracking sewer alligators, secret-agent chameleons and a rock hyrax (a sort of African guinea pig) who’s not afraid to taunt the mighty Samson. By the time the dancing gnus were introduced, I felt overwhelmed.

Despite the movie’s messiness, I was entertained. Perhaps it was because the characters, jokes and pop culture references were introduced at such a dizzying pace, that I didn’t have time to fully absorb whatever was or wasn’t going on. Strip away all of the bells and whistles, and all that’s left is a formulaic, unmemorable story.

DVD Extras

The best of the bonus features was five deleted scenes. It’s interesting to note that incomplete computer animation can be as crude as incomplete cell animation. If you watch these scenes, you might as well listen to the optional commentary by director Steve Williams and producer Clint Goldman. Also entertaining were short features showing Eddie Izzard’s recording session (his dialogue was largely ad-libbed), and Colin Cunningham showing off his attitude as the voice of the rock hyrax.

Picture and Sound

Both picture and sound up to Disney’s high standards. The surround sound was often used well when the action shifted to Africa.

How to Use This DVD

Stick it in and press play. The deleted scenes are interesting for those interested in the animation process. The features with the two voice actors are entertaining and short. These three features together are about ten minutes long and can easily be watched after the movie. Skip the music video of the sanitized Billy Idol cover.