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The Wild Thornberrys Movie (2002)

Rating: 4/10

Running Time: 85 minutes

UK Certificate: u

You get the feeling Mr and Mrs Thornberry really should be keeping a closer eye on their offspring. Not only is their youngest daughter Eliza a boarding school escapee who plays with wild cheetahs, wanders through the feet of stampeding elephants and jumps from moving trains, but their eldest daughter Debbie appears to be in genuine danger of becoming a total outcast from society.

Unfortunately for those of us who like our animation a little meatier in both quality and humour, the social services keep their distance for just long enough for small screen cartoon kings Nickelodeon to take this latest cash-in to its conservation-friendly conclusion.

So, while Ma and Pa Thornberry obliviously go about their day job of travelling the globe filming endangered wildlife, Eliza embarks upon a quest to teach a dastardly pair of big-game poachers a lesson they'll never forget. Well, probably not for a couple of weeks at least.

What makes Eliza different from other kids – apart from her close friendship with a cheeky cross-dressing chimpanzee called Darwin and her half-mental family – is that she possesses the magical ability to hold not-particularly-stimulating conversations with animals. It's a gift, we're told early on in the proceedings, that was bestowed on her by a mystical African shaman. Alright for some.

While the “wedgie dance” (don't ask), the frighteningly regular close-ups of baboon's butts and the generally speedy pace of on-screen events are just about enough to hold the attention of younger kids, big brothers and sisters (not to mention parents) will find the “fun” swiftly wearing extremely thin. And, by the time the credits roll, chances are you'll have had more than enough of Darwin's wisecracks.

If there's any consolation, it's that by the time the lovable chimp reaches his awkward teen years he'll more than likely massacre the entire family – but perhaps that's best kept for the sequel.

It's Got: A cracking soundtrack, including contributions from the likes of Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel and Youssouf N’Dour.

It Needs: To make far far better use of what is a surprisingly good voiceover cast.


Lacking both the wit and charm of fellow Nickelodeon creation Rugrats, only the youngest of viewers are likely to find The Wild Thornberrys anything other than totally forgettable.