A review of “The Wild Thornberrys Movie” by Jeanne Aufmuth


Stars: **

Rating: PG for some intense moments

Run Time: 1 hour, 22 minutes



Where to park the little people when the adults are wallowing in the epic violence of “Gangs of New York”?  In the jungles of Africa, of course! Twelve year-old Eliza Thornberry merrily endures the rigors of the African plains while her parents busily engage themselves in the study of endangered wildlife and life in the untamed wilderness. Blessed with a secret gift of speaking to animals (courtesy of a spell by a local Shaman), Eliza finds solace in the friendship of Darwin the monkey and a host of exotic species who look to her for spiritual guidance.  But Eliza’s reckless enthusiasm takes a battering when an expected encounter with a group of immoral poachers turns ugly.

Eliza’s parents and grandparents are horrified by the turn of events, and insist she be exiled to Lady Beatrice’s Haversham Hall, where discipline is prized above all else. Hello, London, good-bye Nairobi.  Needless to say, Eliza’s English stint is short-lived, and she lands back in Africa with surprising (and enterprising) alacrity.

And not a moment too soon, for a glorious herd of elephants are standing at the mercy of the evil poachers and their dastardly electrified fence scheme.  Eliza to the rescue!

Beautifully drawn animation highlights this run-of-the-mill animated movie experience.  The pulsing colors and teeming jungles delivery visual pleasure, but the script is a dimwitted pairing of teen-speak and animal gibberish.  Food fights, wedgies, and bathroom humor are meant to engage the younger set, but merely serve to dumb down the action. 

The moral of the story?  Animals should live without fear of man’s greed. A valuable lesson, better served by a National Geographic Special.