STARS: Harrison Ford, Dan Stevens, Omar Sy, Cara Gee
DIRECTOR: Chris Sanders
Who Framed Roger Rabbit really started all of this silliness. Real people interacting with cartoon characters. (Real people--not actors! Well, they are actors. Let's not go there). Now it's gotten way, way out of hand. In The Call Of The Wild, the latest adaptation of the classic Jack London novel, the CGI technology has been perfected to a state of "less obvious," but only a little kid might not catch on (and this is definitely a kid movie).
Roger Rabbit was an animated anthropomorphic character. Buck, our canine hero in The Call Of The Wild, is a CGI (computer generated imagery) anthropomorphic character--meaning he's an animal that possesses human characteristics, like critical thinking and facial expressions that indicate he understands everything people are saying to him.
All the other animals in the film--the dogs, the bears and the birds (minus Clifton Clowers) are CGI creations as well. The technology has come a long way, and you can almost be lulled into believing Buck is real. Until he starts doing a lot of unreal shit.
Buck starts out having a cushy life with a family in California. He is then dognapped and shipped off to the wilds of the Yukon, where the gold rush of the 1890s has a lot of folks all stirred up. Buck becomes part of a sled dog team for a couple (Omar Sy and Cara Gee) who deliver the mail Pony Express style over the frozen tundra. When the mail route is discontinued, Buck falls into the hands of a mean a cruel owner named Hal ( Dan Stevens). Hal will be confronted by John Thornton, Harrison Ford's character who finally shows up onscreen better late than never. Thornton is kindly but he's a lush, still grieving for his dead son.
Buck and Thornton set off together to live in a cabin in the woods, where more adventure awaits. Buck knows that John's drinking isn't good for him, so he hides the man's bottle of hooch in the snow. Yeah, I know. It gets more woo-woo from there.
The Call Of The Wild was the very first novel I read as a kid, back when my armpits (and most of the rest of me) were still hairless. It still has a special place in my heart. This movie...not so much. It's a great sappy family film, but I'm not a family guy. And I don't dig the idea of ascribing human traits to noble animals.
It makes them less noble.