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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Wild Thornberrys Movie
Wild Thornberrys Movie
Paramount // PG // April 1, 2003
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted March 26, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Unlike the Rugrats (featured in two movies), I was entirely unfamilar with the Wild Thornberrys going into this feature. Apparently one of the more recent efforts of cable channel Nickelodeon, "Thornberrys" features the family of the title - Father is the host of a nature show, while mom operates the camera. Young Eliza (voiced by Lacey Chabert) once saved a tribal chief from a warthog, so she has been given the gift of being able to communicate with animals. Her sister is a regular teenager, almost always embarassed by the actions of her younger sibling.

In a well-animated and thrilling opening scene, Eliza fails to save a baby cheetah from a band of poachers leaving on a helicopter. Since she was playing with the cheetah at the time, she feels responsible. Her parents, who can't know of her ability to talk to animals and don't quite understand their daughter's actions, discuss their daughter's possibilities - unfortunately, her Grandmother decides that boarding school in London is best.

While in London, Eliza continues to plan a way back to Africa to rejoin her parents and continue her quest to save the baby cheetah she'd failed to save. When she returns to Africa, she finds that an even bigger and more dangerous plot against the animals is afoot. The film's messages of environmentalism are certainly apparent, but it's nice that they're offered in a subtle and enjoyable way instead of being shoved at the audience.

The film's animation isn't going to impress those who've watched one of Pixar's recent productions, "Ice Age" or, beyond anything else, one of master animator Hayao Miyazaki's films ("Spirited Away"). However, I liked the fact that "Thornberrys" does use the wider 2.35:1 frame well, and occasional computer work adds to the look of the picture. The film's soundtrack also includes enjoyable works from Paul Simon, Sting and many others. Voice work by Marisa Tomei, Rupert Everett, Alfre Woodard and others is first-rate.

Overall, while "Thornberries" never greatly impressed, it still did provide 85 minutes of light adventure, fun characters and involving story. A couple of sequences may scare the youngest viewers, but this is otherwise fine family fare.


The DVD

VIDEO: Paramount offers "The Wild Thornberrys" in both 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and pan & scan 1.33:1 full-frame editions. The anamorphic widescreen presentation is really quite nice. Although the animation is somewhat flat, detail is still pleasing and black level is solid.

The presentation only showed a few slight flaws around the edges. A couple of slight specks showed up on the print in a scene or two, while a bare minimum of edge enhancement was seen. No compression artifacts appeared. The film's color palette is fairly low-key at times, given the dry terrain, but brighter colors do appear at times. Colors looked accurate and natural throughout, with no flaws. Very fine work from Paramount.

SOUND: "The Wild Thornberrys" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 by Paramount. The film's audio doesn't veer too far from expectations for the sound of children's fare, but some scenes make surprisingly solid use of the surrounds for effects and reinforcement of the music. As for the music, the film's tribal score sounds especially dynamic, with strong bass and pleasing reinforcement by the surrounds. Other soundtrack offerings from Peter Gabriel, Paul Simon, Sting and Reel Big Fish also fill the listening space well. Dialogue remains crisp and clear throughout, too.

EXTRAS: The film's trailer, Paul Simon music video and previews for other Paramount family titles.

Final Thoughts: While it may not have been terribly memorable, "The Wild Thornberries Movie" still provided a cute and enjoyable 85 minutes of animated entertainment. Paramount's DVD offers very good audio/video quality, but unfortunately, nothing much in the way of supplements. Recommended.

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