We Bought a Zoo
A widowed father played by Matt Damon moves to the South Californian country and purchases a zoo with his family
On Film4: 6 Sep 6:25PM
Nickelodeon marries two of its most popular cartoon franchises. The walking, talking tots of the Rugrats meet the eccentric jungle explorers the Wild Thornberrys while marooned on a desert island
Little Tommy Pickles (Daily) worships plummy explorer Nigel Thornberry (Curry), and wishes he could join him on his adventures - much to the disdain of his sister, the brattish Angelica (Chase): "You're just a backyard baby with a diaper full of dreams." He soon gets his chance when the Rugrats are stranded on a jungle island, where the Thornberrys are tracking a rare and dangerous leopard.
Judging by the critical reception heralding Rugrats' arrival, you'd be forgiven for thinking this should join the ranks of that very special genre: films so toxic they ought only to be handled with asbestos mittens. Comments like "Dull, forgettable tripe" and - Lord save us - "A monstrosity", certainly don't inspire confidence.
In fairness, Rugrats Go Wild really isn't that bad; it just doesn't hold a candle to 2002's charming and superior The Wild Thornberrys Movie, possibly accounting for the hysterical sense of betrayal. As with most post-'The Simpsons' animations, spoofy references abound; everything from The Poseidon Adventure to Taxi Driver and From Here To Eternity is duly - if unimaginatively - sent up. If the rather more interesting Thornberry family have been more or less shunted into second billing, Willis almost redeems this shrill, mismatched affair with his powerhouse turn as Spike, the Rugrats scatologically-minded family dog - particularly when sparring with deadly leopard Siri (Hynde, on sexily malevolent vocals). But if Willis gets the best lines, it's Red Hot Chilli Peppers' bassist Flea, as the pint-sized tornado Donnie Thornberry, whose crazed, unintelligible gibberish leaves the most exhilarating impression
Something of a missed opportunity for both parties, serving to prove the old adage that mixing two or more clashing colours in the paint pot often results in brown sludge.
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