Reviewer's Rating 3 out of 5   User Rating 4 out of 5
The Wild Thornberrys Movie (2003)

"Pippi Longstocking" meets "Doctor Dolittle" in the latest animated spin-off from children's TV channel Nickelodeon.

Its heroine is Eliza Thornberry (Lacey Chabert), a 12-year-old girl who - thanks to an encounter with an African shaman - has the magical ability to talk to animals.

It's a talent that comes in handy as she journeys across the Serengeti Plain with her nature documentarian dad, capable mom, and stroppy older sister.

Together with adopted wild-child Donnie (Flea) and neurotic chimp Darwin (Tom Kane), the Wild Thornberrys are not your average family.

But their respective strengths come to the fore when confronted by a pair of hi-tech poachers out to slaughter a herd of elephants.

The animation may not be in the same class as "The Lion King", but co-directors Jeff McGrath and Cathy Malkasian deserve praise for their attempts to render Africa's wildlife as authentically as possible.

If only the same could be said for their human characters. With their bulbous heads, cornstalk limbs, and pot bellies, they make the Rugrats look like Girls Aloud.

The plot would hardly suffice for a half-hour episode, so writer Kate Boutilier introduces a pointless interlude that sees pig-tailed, brace-wearing Eliza shipped off to an English boarding school.

Things pick up once the film returns to the Veldt, with a surprisingly tense climax that's sure to keep tots gripped.

The voice cast is unusually starry with Brenda Blethyn, Rupert Everett, and Marisa Tomei joining series regulars Lacey Chabert, Tim Curry, and Michael Balzary - aka Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers.

End Credits

Director: Jeff McGrath, Cathy Malkasian

Writer: Kate Boutilier

Stars: Lacey Chabert, Tim Curry, Tom Kane, Lynn Redgrave, Jodi Carlisle, Danielle Harris, Rupert Everett, Marisa Tomei, Flea , Alfre Woodard, Brenda Blethyn

Genre: Animation, Family

Length: 85 minutes

Cinema: 07 February 2003

Country: USA

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