“The Wild Life” is the American release of the French/Belgian animated adventure “Robinson Crusoe.” It’s bland. It’s benign. It’s a series of pinhole-camera chases inoffensively strung together.
English-dubbed and PG-scrubbed, “The Wild Life” tells the story of Daniel Defoe’s resourceful castaway through the eyes of his cute animal posse on a non-scary and bountiful island. Crusoe’s not the hero; that mantle falls to a Macaw the human names “Tuesday.”
No “Friday,” no cannibals, no aggressive argument for religious conversion, no mention of Crusoe-as-slaver (he’s a nice young man longing to see the world).
But just as the film’s target audience is unlikely to have read the Defoe novel, what’s more important than what is missing is what is there. In “The Wild Life,” unfortunately, that’s not a lot.
The cannibals are replaced as antagonists by the cats that, although stranded for multiple breeding cycles with only bugs to eat, somehow spawn an army of athletic and psychopathic felines. Apart from the bad cats, it’s fun and games in Crusoe and friends’ luxury treehouse tower.
As much as is lost in translation from page to unthreatening kids’ cartoon (a transition that is fine in concept), more seems lost in translation from French to English. The dialogue is so flavorless as to appear to have been generated by Google Translate. The animals’ personalities seem randomly chosen, with clichéd accents, and there isn’t much for the talented voice cast to work with.
“The Wild Life” could have used some of the ingenuity of the book’s protagonist, but it’s harmless and somewhat amusing to its target demo. It exists in the kids-only zone where parents go to pay for their sins or, perhaps, get a nap.
‘The Wild Life’
Rated PG for mild action/peril and some rude humor. 1:30. 2D and 3D: Fayette Mall, Frankfort, Hamburg, Nicholasville, Richmond. 2D only: Georgetown, Winchester.