De­sert­ing Cru­soe

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - TARA BRADY

ROBIN­SON CRU­SOE Di­rected by Ben Stassen and Vin­cent Kesteloot. Fea­tur­ing Yuri Lowen­thal, David Howard, Ron Allen, Ge­orge Bab­bit, Laila Berzins, Debi Tins­ley. Cert PG, gen re­lease, 90mins

Tues­day (David Howard), a quirky par­rot, dreams of a life of ad­ven­ture be­yond the re­mote trop­i­cal is­land that he shares with a chameleon, a tapir, and (for some rea­son) a goat.

A ship­wreck en­sures that the peppy bird does not have to go far. When an oc­ca­sion­ally clumsy hu­man named Robin­son Cru­soe (voiceover veteran Yuri Lowen­thal) is washed ashore it falls to Tues­day to per­suade his more cau­tious chums that they can all live hap­pily to­gether, be­cause that is how the an­i­mal king­dom works.

There’s a prob­lem: Cru­soe wasn’t the only survivor: two mangy cats, in­clud­ing May, the fe­line world’s an­swer to Lady Mac­beth (Debi Tins­ley) are now prowl­ing around the is­land, and May’s not above get­ting preg­nant to gain a nu­mer­i­cal ad­van­tage. In com­par­i­son, the Lady and the Tramp’s sneaky Si­amese sud­denly seem like, well, pussy­cats.

Rather tellingly, this film was re­leased as The Wild Life in other ter­ri­to­ries. Its con­nec­tion to Daniel De­foe’s novel is ten­u­ous at best. That’s a pity. The book, first pub­lished as: The Life and Strange Sur­pris­ing Ad­ven­tures of Robin­son Cru­soe, of York, Mariner: Who lived Eight and Twenty Years, all alone in an un-in­hab­ited Is­land on the Coast of Amer­ica, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Hav­ing been cast on Shore by Ship­wreck, wherein all

the Men per­ished but him­self. With An Ac­count how he was at last as strangely de­liv­ered by

Pi­rates, in which the tit­u­lar cast­away learns ex­treme sur­vival skills, be­friends a na­tive and fights off can­ni­bals is rather more event­ful than this ver­sion, in which car­toon an­i­mals say things like: “To the max”.

Save a fi­nal swash­buck­ling se­quence in which Cru­soe and chums fend off pi­rates, there’s noth­ing to match, say, that spooky mo­ment when the hero finds foot­prints in the sand.

There’s some­thing off-colour, too, about adapt­ing a novel that was once re­garded as re­portage (or a hoax by those who hadn’t quite grasped the idea of the novel) into an­other wacky an­i­mal es­capade.

Still, the an­i­ma­tion, though hardly so­phis­ti­cated, is ser­vice­able, the an­i­mal char­ac­ters look to be care­fully crafted and no­body dances to Sir Mix-A-Lot.

Cru­soe: wild in­ter­pre­ta­tion

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