a critiQal film review The Wild Thornberrys Movie (2002)

  • DVD
  • Vudu

Plot: Meet the Thornberrys. They travel throughout the world, taping segments for a nature show. Eliza, one of the Thornberry daughters, has a special gift: she has been granted the power to talk to animals. While out playing with her chimp, Darwin, and some cheetah cubs, one of the cubs is kidnapped by poachers. Now, she must overcome all and save the cheetah cub from the poachers.

493 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 27s)
  • ...makes the viewer want to see the Nickelodeon® cartoon show - high praise indeed.

Okay, so The Wild Thornberrys Movie wasn’t on my top ten of films to see. It’s based on a Nickelodeon channel cartoon show I’ve never seen. The premise seemed interesting enough, and the trailer looked decent, but I wasn’t sure.

Too many cartoons based on TV shows have turned out so incredibly cheesy (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pops immediately to mind), that I wasn’t sure I wanted to waste my time. A friend rented it, however, so I figured I’d check it out. Didn’t turn out too bad after all, thankfully.

The characters were all voiced well, especially the chimp Darwin and the elder Thornberry daughter, Deborah. Maybe it’s just because they provide most of the comic relief of the film, but their voices are definite stand-outs. The other characters are only okay, while Eliza, unfortunately, has a bit of an annoying voice.

The plot was a decent one. All of the scenes tended to help further along the plot, and The Wild Thornberrys Movie never seemed to lag. With some of these films, they try to just repeat the storyline from the cartoon. With the best of the cartoon to film translations, they start off with the cartoon storyline, and add a little extra to it, so that for the fans of the cartoon show, there’s still a reason to go see the film. As far as I could tell, this film did seem to add something to the cartoon show.

The animation was decent. Some scenes, such as when Eliza swims with the whales, are very well done, while others seem a little sloppy. The people are cartoonish, but decently done, with the occasional exception of Eliza. At times, her face makes her look a little foolish, but for the most part, the animation in The Wild Thornberrys Movie is pretty good.

Cartoon shows turned into a feature film are usually based on a different standard then other animated films. I think they should be set to a higher standard. They should be able to do two things: they should be able to satisfy the regular viewers of the show and they should be able to bring viewers in, hook their interest, and make them want to watch the show regularly.

Coming into this film as someone who’s never seen the cartoon show, I can give this high praise, indeed. After seeing the film, I want to see the cartoon show. That’s about the best thing cartoon show films can ask for from non-viewers. Now all I have to do is figure out what time it comes on.

All in all, The Wild Thornberrys Movie is worth the time, especially for those of you with kids. They’ll enjoy it, and you will too…at least the first few times.

I’m sure Eliza’s voice will eventually start to grate on your nerves, but you should be able to get through the first ten or so viewings in the week before that happens.

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