THE WILD THORNBERRYS MOVIE is the latest in the popular trend of bringing
kids' television cartoon series to the big screen. Many, like HEY ARNOLD!
THE MOVIE, lack visual and creative imagination, having only the popularity
of the TV show to recommend it.
Kate Boutilier's mediocre script for THE WILD THORNBERRYS MOVIE lacks THE
RUGRATS' irreverent wit -- both are made by Nickelodeon -- but the movie's
visuals are surprisingly stunning, full of rich colors and with some
impressive images. Although most of the movie is set in Africa, it is the
portion at an English boarding school, much like the French school in
MADELINE, where the details of the animation are the loveliest.
The series and the movie centers on 12-year-old Eliza Thornberry (voiced by
Lacey Chabert), a girl with a big secret about her magical powers. She can
talk with animals, a gift that she will keep so long as she never admits it
to other humans. She and her family are currently traveling across the
African savanna in an RV. Bet you didn't know than a motor home could have
the off-road capabilities of a Hummer. But, I guess that, if you can buy
people talking to animals, you can accept Winnebagos becoming sport utility
Being a kids' movie, you can be sure that the plot will involve some aspect
of environmentalism. Eliza is trying to find and rescue the young cheetah
that some poachers in a helicopter stole from the cheetah's mother. The
recycled plot doesn't have anything new to say, and it's relatively devoid
of effective humor. Even Eliza's talkative sidekick, a monkey named Darwin
(voiced Tom Kane), doesn't get many laughs. The only completely successful
character is Eliza's sister, Debbie (voiced by Danielle Harris), a
hilariously sarcastic teen. Debbie resents all of the attention paid to her
younger sister just because she keeps getting into trouble. Debbie, who is
like a grownup Rugrat, steals every scene she is in. Let's hope that next
time Debbie becomes the star.
THE WILD THORNBERRYS MOVIE runs 1:22. It is rated PG for "some adventure
peril" and would be acceptable for all ages.
My son Jeffrey, age 13, gave it just one *, saying that he found it boring
and predictable. His cousin Hannah, age 10, who thought she wouldn't like
it, did enjoy it and gave it ***. His cousin William, age 8, liked it,
especially the Thornberry's high tech gear and the animals. William's
sister Liana, age 6, liked it too. Her favorite part was when they got
Copyright © 2002 Steve Rhodes