Robinson Crusoe is a classic literary work written by Daniel Defoe in the early 18th century. The story involves the titular character spending thirty years stranded on a deserted island and has since been adapted dozens of times into other media. The Wild Life is an animated film adapted from Robinson Crusoe, unfortunately, it’s god-awful. The film probably hoped to slip under the radar of late summer releases that generally bomb or go unnoticed by the masses. The Wild Life is a Belgian-French film translated into English and released upon a naive and unsuspecting audience. I, unfortunately, paid good money to see this garbage. You should not.
Saying The Wild Life is based on Robinson Crusoe is like saying the Super Mario Bros movie is an accurate representation of the actual game. The film has elements of the Crusoe story but it's so badly mishandled that you’re better off just reading the book or seeing any of the Crusoe movies that have come before this. The film’s ‘story’ is about a bunch of animals who believe their ‘paradise island’ is the entire world and their illusion becomes broken when castaway Robinson Crusoe washes ashore. Robinson Crusoe (Yuri Lowenthal), as portrayed in The Wild Life, is a useless bumbling idiot who would have surely died on this island if the animals didn’t decide to help him.
The film decided it needed to have antagonists to spice things up for Crusoe and his merry band of animals. They range from pirates and other animals to Crusoe’s own stupidity. The other animals, being ship cats (i.e. cats who live on the ships and eat rodents), manage to actually be creepy and loathsome. There are several awkward moments in the movie regarding the cats, murder, and pregnancy. I’m dead serious about that last one and it's just as bad as it sounds in a children’s movie.
The animation and voice acting are terrible. You would think the studios would try harder during a year of excellent animated releases like Finding Dory, Kubo and the Two Strings, Zootopia. Nope! The animation is just dreadful. It looks like lazy animation from the pre-Toy Story era (yes I'm exaggerating for comedic effect, it's still awful). The characters, most of whom are animals, don’t have anything unique or interesting about them save the Parrot, Mak/Tuesday (David Howard Thornton). His only motivation is to get off the island and see the rest of the world, a notion which he repeats ad nauseam in case you forget. The rest of the voice actors are almost indistinguishable from each other, save for them being different animals.
It’s mystifying how bad this movie is. Perhaps some of the jokes were lost in translation as the film was translated into English. But simple translation errors can’t explain this film’s complete and utter awfulness. The film looks as though it were made by computer animators working in 1993 on a Macintosh Color Classic. None of the characters are interesting, unique, or enjoyable and the voice acting is just as bad. The film’s story and the plot are stupid, strange, and oddly dark in some places. In short, The Wild Life is derivative garbage and should only be viewed by people with an extreme fetish for Robinson Crusoe or in desperate need to distract young children. Avoid like the plague.
TLDR: The Wild Life (2016) is an atrocious animated film that would have been better off as a straight to DVD Walmart bargain bin. 1/5 Stars.