Making the Grades
Don't be surprised if you feel like deja vu at the zoo in the animal epic, The Wild. Like the 2005 film, Madagascar, this script includes a cast of well-fed, pampered beasts who live behind bars in the middle of the city. But lounging in the lap of luxury with ready-made meals and adoring fans has left one teenaged cub longing for more excitement.
Confident that life in the wild would be better than what he has, Ryan (voice of Greg Cipes) ignores the repeated warnings of Samson, his father (voice of Kiefer Sutherland), and climbs into a large, metal box outside the animal compound. Before he knows it, the disgruntled cub is locked in, crated up and shipped off to some remote location.
Intent on saving his son from a long trip overseas, Samson sneaks out of the zoo. But his covert operation is botched when he discovers he has an entourage. Along with his best pal, Benny the squirrel (voice of James Belushi), Samson also has to watch out for Nigel the cranky Koala (voice of Eddie Izzard), Bridget the long-legged giraffe (voice of Janeane Garofalo) and Larry the dim-witted anaconda (voice of Richard Kind).
However, even with his helpers in tow, bringing his boy home proves to be more difficult than Samson supposed. Trekking through the alligator-infested sewers of New York City, crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a tugboat, and fighting off depraved wildebeests are only some of the adventures this dedicated dad endures.
While the explosion in computer animation technology allows the film's creators the chance to focus on the minutest details of these animals, the story has several familiar themes. Ryan's defiant attitude lands him in a lot of trouble and causes plenty of parent-child angst between the teen and his single father. Yet despite his willful disobedience, he is quick to call Dad to come to the rescue. Like the militaristic hyenas in The Lion King, this film's secondary characters also include a herd of wildebeest under the command of a deranged leader, Kazar (voice by William Shatner).
Still, if you're willing to watch recognizable scenarios disguised with new faces and musical scores, The Wild won't disappoint. Preaching well-known messages on family commitment and courage in the face of danger, it locks up all the essential life lessons in just over an hour.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Wild.
Despite all the comforts Ryan and his father experience, why is the cub so unhappy with his situation? Why does he think living in the wild would be better?
How does the father/son relationship change during their adventure? What does Ryan learn about courage and the responsibilities of growing up?