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Movie review: ‘Wild Life’ a painful version of ‘Robinson Crusoe’

Fetching up on the rocky shore of the Island of Annoying Animals™, the Robinson Crusoe of the animated “The Wild Life” reveals himself to be the klutziest castaway ever to infest a tropical paradise.

A seasick sailor even before his disastrous landfall, urping over the side — Blarg! — at the slightest swell. On land, he — Ooof! — falls down often and — Yeek! —mishandles a musket and — Oww! — mashes his thumb with a hammer while building a rickety treehouse. He also flees pirates — Ooooh! — and attacking feral cats — NOOOO! — (more on them later). Not to mention— Aaaaah! — plunges from heights.

Many, many — AAAIEE! And AAAIEEEE! — of those.

Watching this stumbling catastrophe, the old Kurt Vonnegut saying, “I could carve a better man out of a banana” springs unbidden to mind.

Observing and abetting his many misadventures are the island’s animal inhabitants, a chattering menagerie more or less led by a garrulous parrot. The bird’s critter colleagues are a pack of dithery flibbertigibbets, including a nearsighted goat and a tremulous tapir, among others. They yak and yelp — Chitter! Jabber! — at first fearful of the intruder and then supportive of him as they see he’s a harmless, well-meaning doofus.

Not so harmless and definitely not well-meaning are some feral cartoon cats, so moth-eaten and scary-looking they’re virtually guaranteed to induce nightmares in impressionable small children. They want to kill everyone in sight. MEEOOOWRR!

All things considered, this pitifully plotted Belgian-French production represents the nadir of animated movies released so far this year.

Oh, and that sound you’re hearing in the background, that high-pitched whine of pure distress, growing louder — EEEE! — every second “The Wild Life” is on the screen? That’s Daniel Defoe, author of “Robinson Crusoe,” twirling in his tomb at the velocity of a turbine at Grand Coulee Dam.

The Wild Life

out of 5

Cast: Featuring the voices of Yuri Lowenthal, David Howard, Joey Camen.

Directors: Vincent Kesteloot and Ben Stassen.

Running time: 1:31.

Rated: PG, for mild action/peril and some rude humor.

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