The Wild Thornberrys Movie
3 out of 5 stars
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Kind of like The Lion King crossed with Rugrats, this energetic animated feature is actually quite good fun ... and smart enough to keep grown-ups entertained. It centres on the adventurous Thornberry family: Nigel (voiced by Curry) travels the world hosting a British wildlife show, which is produced by his American wife Marianne (Carlisle). Their older daughter Debbie (Harris) is a sarcastic Valley Girl type while the younger Eliza (Chabert) is the story's real protagonist ... because she has a secret ability to talk to animals. In the story, she's sent to boarding school in England after landing in a spot of trouble, but she and her cheeky chimp Darwin (Kane) sneak back to Africa to find a cheetah cub stolen by poachers ... which turns out to be only the tip of the iceberg in a conspiracy that threatens the entire rainforest population.

There's a nicely warped sense of humour throughout the film that makes it very watchable even for discriminating adults while kids will enjoy the adventure and humour. The characters are vivid and hilarious--well voiced and animated, and given dialog that defines their personalities brilliantly, while allowing each one to be changed a bit by the adventure they encounter. The plot also has a wonderfully poignant arc to it that catches the back of the throat with both emotion and suspense. Meanwhile, the animation is just askew enough to keep us off guard (it's great to see something original-looking for a change), and there are some serious themes at work involving man's relationship to nature. We also get a superb collection of songs by Peter Gabriel, Youssou N'Dour, Paul Simon and others. On the other hand, the plot itself gallops along with little regard to logic or coherence, not that it matters much! This is thoroughly entertaining with an important message. And with its above-average animation it's also well worth seeing on a big screen.

cert U some suspense 12.Jan.03

dir Cathy Malkasian, Jeff McGrath
scr Kate Boutilier
voices Lacey Chabert, Tim Curry, Jodi Carlisle, Tom Kane, Danielle Harris, Flea, Lynn Redgrave, Brenda Blethyn, Alfre Woodard, Rupert Everett, Marisa Tomei, Obba Babatunde
release US 20.Dec.02; UK 7.Feb.03
02/US 1h25

White-water. Several members of the Thornberry family race toward a rather massive waterfall...

blethyn redgrave everett
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2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall