The Wild Thornberrys Movie

on December 20, 2002 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
The popular TV series about the Thornberry family, including daughter Eliza, who can talk to the animals, is brought to the screen in a competent but mediocre animated adventure. The film plops the Thornberrys--Eliza, her bratty sister and documentary filmmaker parents--onto the African Serengeti Plains, where a convoluted plot finds our heroine trying to rescue a baby cheetah who has been snatched by poachers. But first, she has to escape the stuffy English boarding school her grandparents have sent her to.

“The Wild Thornberrys Movie” is perfectly watchable and occasionally--mostly when the neurotic monkey Darwin is on screen--even clever. But it traffics in stereotypes--notably Eliza's stuffy British father and his obnoxious parents--and never rises to inspired heights within either its animation or storyline. The voice actors are okay and the songs, by the likes of Paul Simon and Peter Gabriel, are not memorable. On the basis of this film, it's difficult to fathom the Thornberrys' appeal. Voiced by Rupert Everett, Marisa Tomei and Lynn Redgrave. Directed by Jeff McGrath and Cathy Malkasian. Written by Kate Boutilier. Produced by Arlene Klasky and Gabor Csupo. A Paramount release. Animated. Rated PG for some adventure peril. Running time: 86 min. Opens 12/20.

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