January 9, 2007

Animated Manhattan: The Wild

Part 15 in an ongoing series looking at New York City in animation.

The WildYou know how sometimes you see a movie that’s supposed to take place in Manhattan, but in order to save money they filmed it somewhere else, like Toronto, and since you’ve been to New York you can totally tell that there’s no way they filmed that in Manhattan, except for the one scene that takes place in Times Square? Well, that’s what The Wild was like. Except, being a cartoon without location expenses and made by Disney, they really have no excuse.

The WildThe movie is about a bunch of animals in a fictional New York Zoo who go on an adventure whose plot was ripped straight from Finding Nemo, then had all the humor and charm stripped out of it. When the animals leave the zoo to find a missing lion cub, I expected some amazing Manhattan humor before they left the city, just like in the nearly identically-themed movie Madagascar (link goes to that film’s review from this series). But the only specific places they go to are Times Square, which I’m sure was picked so that Disney could satisfy all its product placement obligations in one scene, and the Statue of Liberty, which is shown multiple times, and only from afar.

The WildWhere are the other landmarks? Where’s the sweeping skyline? No Empire State Building? No Chrysler Building? No Brooklyn Bridge? The only recognizable buildings that jumped out at me were the Citicorp Building and 17 State Street, which I think might have been partially visible in one scene. The Wild might be the first cartoon I’ve reviewed that doesn’t have a scene at Rockefeller Center. Have the animators even been to New York?

Instead of showing real places, there were awful scenes in generic settings like alleys and sewers, with killer poodles and friendly crocodiles. Sounds hilarious, right? The pickings were slim in finding New York scenes, so here’s the movie poster, which depicts New York City better than any scene in the movie:

The Wild

And since I went through the trouble of taking a few more screen captures, here’s the remainder of the film’s Manhattan depictions:

The Wild The Wild
The Wild The Wild

IMDb Rating: 5.2/10
BCDb Rating: N/A
My Rating: 2/10

(My rating is for the depiction of NYC only)


I’ve really enjoyed this series so far. Perhaps you could do a series dealing with how the city is treated in film as well as animation? I’ve always been fascinated with New York despite living way out in the flyover, and would be interested in a native’s perspective of how close famous movies and television series get to depicting the real thing.

Andrew, if you want to learn more about New York City in the movies, you may want to check out Celluloid Skyline, a website based on a book by the same name. -David

Will do. Thanks for the tip.

From a rights standpoint, there is a difference between shooting something and re-creating it.

It is really hard to get the licenses for stuff for virtual recrations- videogames have that problem all the time.

The movie The Wild was only distributed by Disney. It was actually created by a animation company called Vanguard, which is located in…you guessed it Toronto. Which begs the question of why the Canada Geese in the film come off like a poor stereotypical American view of a Canadian….

My favorite animation of NYC is the highly stylized sequences in the film Shortbus.

One reason they might not have shown Rockefeller Center is because Disney owns ABC, and Rockefeller Center is NBC’s building, and they didn’t want to “cross-promote”.

Probably a silly idea, but it’s possible.