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Western Animation / The Wild

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The Circle of Life meets the Big Apple.
A movie distributed by Disney (but made by the now-defunct Canadian C.O.R.E. Feature Animation studio) starring Samson the lion (voiced by Kiefer Sutherland) and his son, Ryan (voiced by Greg Cipes), a squirrel named Benny (voiced by Jim Belushi), an anaconda named Larry (voiced by Richard Kind), a giraffe named Bridget (voiced by Janeane Garofalo), and a koala named Nigel (voiced by Eddie Izzard).

When a disastrous attempt to prove himself leads to a falling out with his dad, Ryan is accidentally shipped away to the African wild. A remorseful Samson searches for him with help from his friends, but during their search, they notice Samson's odd behavior, unusual for a lion of his caliber. Things get worse when the gang encounter wildebeest led by the wicked and insane Kazar (voiced by William Shatner) who wants wildebeests to become top of the food chain.

In Europe, this film is considered to be the 39th film in the Disney Animated Canon; in America, Dinosaur has that spot.

The Wild provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Samson's callous father forced his son to roar at a mechanical wildebeest and heartlessly abandoned him when he couldn't, letting him get taken away to the zoo while insinuating that he isn't a real lion. This has left scars on Samson's psyche that he's still recovering from to this day.
  • Acquired Situational Narcissism: Happens to Butt-Monkey Nigel after learning that Kazar and his wildebeest worship him like a god, but he quickly snaps out of it upon learning that his friends are to be sacrificed and proceeds to stall until Samson shows up.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The theme song for the Japanese version of The Wild is called "Prisoner of Love" by the Gospellers.
  • Animal Stampede: Ryan makes a herd of gazelles go on a stampede, interrupting the other zoo animals' curling match.
  • Anthropomorphic Zig-Zag: The animals sometimes walk the way they do in real-life. Other times, they stand on their hind legs and move like humans.
  • Art Shift: Samson's story at the start of the movie is depicted in a heavily stylized, cartoonish, colorful art style compared to the pseudo-realistic artstyle the rest of the movie uses.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • Ryan is stated to be 11 years old in the movie. Even though he's still a cub, realistically a lion his age would be considered middle-aged. note 
    • Contrary to Kazar's claims, wildebeest cannot consume or digest meat as they are strict herbivores. Justified in that Kazar is clearly insane.
  • Ascended to Carnivorism: The wildebeest. Kazar tries to anyway. Blag and the rest of his minions don't really want to become predators but Kazar browbeats them into following him. They finally stand up to him at the climax.
  • Aside Glance: Kazar looks toward the camera when he is seconds away from getting crushed by the koala shrine.
  • Bad Boss: Kazar treats Blag and other wildebeest quite poorly. At one point, after learning that they only brought in Ryan for the sacrifice, Kazar decides that the lion cub will only be enough for his own ascending and doesn't give a hoot about what happens to the others. Naturally, the others get fed up with him by the end and perform a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Becoming the Boast: Samson lies that he's from the wild and defeated a herd of Wildebeest earlier in the movie. Later on, he does manage to defeat Kazar, a Wildebeest.
  • Bicep Kiss: The giant wildebeest in Samson's exaggerated story kisses his absolutely humungous biceps.
  • Big Guy, Little Guy: Samson (a lion) and his best friend Benny (a squirrel) are naturally this.
  • Borrowed Without Permission:
    • When Benny steals a candy necklace from a baby girl, Samson lightly calls him out on doing so. Benny simply affirms that he prefers the term "liberating".
    • Nigel the Koala claims that he merely borrowed a Statue of Liberty toy lamp before anyone has even asked where he found it from.
  • Breaking the Cycle of Bad Parenting: As shown in a flashback, Samson's father was very abusive towards his son, forcing him to roar at a mechanical wildebeest and cruelly abandoning him to get taken away to the zoo when he couldn't. While Samson isn't perfect himself and struggles with being a father, he is far more considerate towards his own son, Ryan, and goes out of his way to rescue him when Ryan accidentally gets shipped off to the wild. Ryan even admits that he's glad to have Samson as his father by the end of the movie.
  • Butt-Monkey: Nigel. While all the characters suffer slapstick comedy throughout the film, Nigel is far more susceptible to it by a wide margin. His intro involves him suffering a Groin Attack and then getting mobbed by flamingos.
  • The Chain of Harm: Samson's father was an abusive jerk who abandoned his son when the latter failed to roar at a mechanical wildebeest and let him get taken away to the zoo. Samson tries to be better towards his own son Ryan, but his embellished stories about being from the wild and fighting wildebeest ironically only serve to alienate Ryan and make him feel like he can't live up to his father. It gets to the point where, after accidentally causing a stampede in the zoo, Ryan tries to run away to the wild when Samson angrily snaps at him and insinuates he did so because he couldn't roar.
  • Chekhov's Volcano: When the group makes it to the wild, it's revealed that the animals on the island are being rescued from a volcano that's about to erupt, which Kazar has made his lair. It finally erupts at the end of the movie, but everyone (barring Kazar, who dies in the eruption) escapes at the last moment.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Larry is not the sharpest snake, though he has his rare moments of accidental insight.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Nigel, Bridget and Larry really want to see Samson tear apart and devour a hyrax who'd done little more than act like an ass to them and stink up the place.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Nigel sees all the wildebeest bowing before him as if he were their ruler, he thinks they are doing a yoga and assumes the volcano is a yoga retreat.
  • Company Cross References: When Blag captures Ryan, he calls the cub "Tigger", a character from another Disney property.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: The antagonists are a herd of wildebeests... with near-flawless dance moves.
  • Covers Always Lie:
    • The posters for this movie seem to imply that the sewer alligators are the villains. In the movie, they're actually friendly characters who don't really play a big part of the movie other than leading Samson and his friends to the Statue of Liberty.
    • To add, on most of the advertising prominently features the characters in New York. They are only in the city for the first half of the movie, and they spend less time there than at the zoo, boat, and jungle.
  • Dance Party Ending: The film ends with the crew and the wildebeests dancing on the ship. This extends into the credits with the crew, the wildebeests, the minor zoo animals, and the residents of the Wild dancing to "Real Wild Child".
  • Disney Villain Death: Towards the ending of the movie, Kazar is crushed to death by the rocks as the volcano erupts.
  • The Dragon: Nigel becomes this to Kazar, unintentionally going along with his plans of getting the Wildebeests at the top of the food chain.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: A bizarre case - whilst Kazar and the wildebeests worship Nigel as "The Great Him" and, ostensibly, serve his will, it's clear that Nigel is basically Kazar's prisoner and possesses little in the way of actual authority.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Larry the anaconda is normally silly and aloof, but his stroke of brilliance comes when he suggests that they use their "secret plan" from curling to beat the wildebeests.
  • Fluorescent Footprints: Samson attempting to tap into his instincts to track down Ryan starts seeing arrows and designs in the scenery leading him, and he assumes this is just how it works, but it is subverted when it is revealed to be chameleons secretly leading the way.
  • Gasshole: The hyrax lets out little farts almost every time he takes a step.
  • Genial Giraffe: Bridget the giraffe is nice despite being a bit of a Deadpan Snarker, mostly towards Benny who has a crush on her.
  • Green Gators: Stan and Carmine are green. An unusual example in that the film uses a realistic art style. So they look just like real crocodiles, except they're green. Granted, they aren’t a bright green like most alligator depictions.
  • Hand Stomp: During the final battle, Kazar stomps on Samson's front paw while he is hanging over the edge of a lava pit. Subsequently, Samson noticeably limps for the remainder of the fight.
  • Hate Sink: There are a lot of reasons for the viewers to hate Samson's father. He forces his son to roar at a mechanical wildebeest, showing zero support when the poor cub is nervous, and when he is unable to, he gets put in a cage. His father is also fine with Samson getting taken away to the zoo with zero remorse. All these make that lion even more despicable than Kazar.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Kazar's lieutenant Blag and the rest of the wildebeests are repeatedly threatened and abused by their boss to follow his insane plan of wildebeests becoming predators. They finally stand up to him in the climax.
    Kazar: What are you doing? I command you to attack them! Like true predators!
    Blag: We're tired of pretending to be something we're not. But most of all, we're tired of you.
  • High Koala-ty Cuteness: Nigel is known to be "cute and cuddly" by the public, though he is sick of this. He is really grouchy, though despite this, he's pretty good friends with most of the main cast.
  • Hollywood Chameleons: They can even pile on top of another animal and render it completely invisible.
  • Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: Benny (a squirrel) spends the whole movie pinning after Bridget (a giraffe). They get together by the end.
  • Humanlike Animal Aging: Ryan is still a cub at age 11. Real lions would be considered to be middle-aged at that age.
  • I Have No Son!: Samson's father disowns him when he's unable to roar like a real lion.
  • Idea Bulb: When a bunch of chameleons cover up Benny’s body, they are able to turn him invisible and make him different colors. When Samson realizes he has an idea involving the chameleons, they visualize a lightbulb over Samson shaped like Benny's head.
  • Interspecies Romance: Bridget and Benny. It's a one-sided romance on Benny's side until the end, when Bridget returns his feelings by giving him a passionate kiss on the lips.
  • Jerkass: Colin the hyrax. He feels insulted when Samson wouldn't eat him, accusing him of thinking he's not good enough to be eaten. He also insults Samson and his friends as he walks away, accidentally bumping into a tree. He then screams at the tree for ruining his dramatic exit.
  • Karmic Death: Kazar meets his end when he gets tangled in a Nigel doll's string and crushed by rocks while inside an erupting volcano. Said doll was the same one that caused him to start his evil plan to begin with.
  • Liar Revealed: For most of the movie, Samson paints himself as an action hero who used to live in the wild and went on many adventures, frequently battling wildebeests and defeating them with his powerful roar. However, when he leaves the zoo, it quickly becomes apparent that he's not as competent as he says he is; he runs from dogs, refuses to eat a rude hyrax, elects to run from the wildebeest he says he easily defeated in his stories, and lacks any real savage instincts. It eventually comes out that he was Raised In Captivity and never actually set foot into the wild before the movie.
  • Logo Joke: A jungle themed Walt Disney Pictures logo plays over Samson telling a story to Ryan. But the light fails to arc over the castle because Ryan tells Samson he heard the stories Samson told him too many times. At one point, the light ball gets dragged back by the arc line.
  • Missing Mom: Galena, Samson's wife and Ryan's mother. She was never even mentioned onscreen and it is thought she died. But she appeared in a deleted scene, where she's worried that her husband and son are in danger and relies on Benny to look out for them both.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Let's see... before Samson and his friends could win in turtle curling (with a cameo from Don Cherry, voicing in the appearance of a penguin, on commentary!), Ryan accidentally starts a stampede, which nearly harms everyone at the shuffleboard event. Then Samson berates his son endangering everyone in the zoo with said stampede, calls him out for always moping around, and asks if he did this because he couldn't roar. The look on his son's face tells us that Samson immediately regretted saying that and instantly tried to apologize. We later learn why he felt bad saying that.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Ryan's look after accidentally causing a stampede.
    • The gang when the garbage truck they're in is about to crush them.
    • After Samson tells his friends he's not from the wild and he can't protect them.
  • One Drink Will Kill the Baby: Parodied. When Benny sees strange patterns and hears whispering in the wild, he initially believes it's because his mother drank pool water when she was pregnant with him.
  • Product Placement: New York has a lot of real-life brands prominently featured during the Clocks montage. Toys "R" Us, McDonalds, Kodak, ABC, the list goes on.
  • Psycho Poodle: The gang get attacked by a vicious back of stray dogs which was led by a crazy white poodle.
  • Raised In Captivity: The plot revolves around Samson and his friends escaping from a zoo to find Samson's son Ryan, who was accidentally taken to Africa after stowing away in a shipping container. Though the other animals rely on Samson - who claims to have been born in the wild before he came to the zoo - to guide them, it eventually comes out that Samson was actually born in a circus and has no wild instincts whatsoever.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent:
    • Utterly subverted with Larry. Not only is he a snake who is one of the good guys, but he is arguably the least-malicious character in the movie, being a Cloudcuckoolander Nice Guy. His kind being dangerous predators in the wild is never even acknowledged.
    • The sewer gator duo, at first, appear to play the Never Smile at a Crocodile trope straight only to then reveal that they were just messing with the heroes and procced to help them find the Statue of Liberty.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: After Samson revealed that he lied about his past and are hopelessly lost, his friends decide to find their way back, ignoring Benny's plea. Until he reminds them that Samson needs help finding his son.
  • Secret-Keeper: Early in the film, Benny is the only one who knows Samson's deep dark secret. The secret turns out to be he's not from the wild, but was born in a circus. The other animals didn't call him out for keeping it from them. Perhaps it never even occurred to them.
  • Sewer Gator: The film saw the zoo animals meeting up with a pair of alligators in the sewer who actually turned out to be friendly and helped the heroes find the way to the Statue of Liberty.
  • Shout-Out: The back-story for the villain references The Gods Must Be Crazy. A talking koala (modeled after one of the main characters, no less) doll falls from an airplane, saving the life of a wildebeest, who reveres it as divine and sets up a Religion of Evil around it.
  • Silent Treatment: In one scene, Benny refuses to talk to Bridget after she firmly rejects him, but she doesn't care.
  • Snakes Are Sinister: Subverted with Larry. He's an anaconda, which is part of the good guys, although he is friendly and kind, he is also a Cloudcuckoolander.
  • The Stinger: After the credits finished rolling, Nigel briefly walks across the screen telling everyone to go home now. A gazelle then slides into him.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Benny, a squirrel, and Bridget, a giraffe.
  • Tutti Frutti Hat: Larry wears one at the end of the film when he becomes a secret agent.
  • Unexplained Accent:
    • The pigeons in New York, notably Benny's friend Hamir, have exaggerated Indian accents for no clear reason.
    • The remote African island the heroes end up on has both a British hyrax and German dung beetles.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: No one in New York seems to notice the wild zoo animals roaming free around the city.
  • Volcano Lair: Kazar's lair is located inside a volcano that's about to erupt, where he plans to consume a lion to become a predator.
  • Was It All a Lie?: Samson tells his son and friends stories about his adventures in the wild. However, as they search for Ryan, Samson's friends find it odd that he tells them to run away from rabid dogs rather than fighting them off. Then, when they're in Africa, he was unable to eat a rude hyrax. They feel as though he's not really from the wild. Samson says it's true, he's a phony and he's sorry for lying to them and being unable to protect them. Followed by an Oh, Crap! moment.
  • Was Too Hard on Him: Samson worries he drove his son away by scolding him for not being able to roar and endangering everyone in the zoo with a stampede.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Samson calls Ryan out on endangering everyone in the zoo with the stampede. But he went too far, and Ryan gives him the I Wish You Are Not My Father speech.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: When Samson fails to save Ryan from being taken by the wildebeest and is on the verge of giving up, Benny gives him a pep talk to lift his spirits:
    Benny: C'mon, Sam, you're a lion. You come from a long line of kings. Yeah, maybe you're not from the wild, but fightin's in your blood!
    Samson: No... I'll never be a real lion.
    Benny: Wrong! You are a real lion. Doesn't matter where you're from; zoo, jungle, goldfish bowl... it's what's in here! [gestures to his chest] That determines who you are! At least, that's what you always told your son. Now he's out there, Sammy, and he needs you. Who else is going to teach him how to roar?
  • You Dirty Rat!: Discussed. No rats actually appear in the movie, but Benny is mistaken for one when he tries to steal a candy necklace from a little girl and is swatted away. He reacts indignantly to being called a "rat":
    Girl: Dirty, naughty rat!
    Benny: Rats do not got bling like this, lady. [holds up the necklace triumphantly]


Video Example(s):


Samson's roar

Samson gives Kazaar a roar so loud that it shakes the whole mountain, and launches him backwards. And Samson's son, Ryan couldn’t be more proud of him.

How well does it match the trope?

3.29 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / MightyRoar

Media sources: