Along with 'Curious George', Disney's 'The Wild' is the first major kid-friendly movie of the season to hit our silver screens. It is another herald of the impending summer, but unfortunately it is about as exciting and inspiring as most of our recent weather.

We follow the fortunes of an adolescent lion named Ryan (Cipes) who, tired of living in his father Samson's (Sutherland) shadow in the confines of New York Zoo, decides to run away. His plan goes awry, however, when he ends up being shipped to a jungle in Africa. It is then up to Samson and his friends, who include a koala called Nigel (Izzard) and a giraffe by the name of Bridget (Garafolo), to rescue the youngster.

There are many parallels between the 'The Wild' and its animated predecessor 'Chicken Little'. For a start, both have an array of fine and recognisable voices. 'The Wild' boasts the likes of Eddie Izzard, Janeane Garafolo and the current undisputed king of self-deprecation, William Shatner. The only flaw in this regard is Kiefer Sutherland, who for the most part sounds like a hung-over version of his '24' character, Jack Bauer.

In both movies, the central story is of an ailing father-son relationship, but yet again that theme comes across as more contrived than heartfelt. There are some funny bits (courtesy in the main here from Belushi's character Benny), but neither are close to laugh-a-minute.

The animation is first class but unlike classics of the genre such as 'The Jungle Book' or 'Lady and the Tramp', the modern-day efforts lack both heart and characters that truly endear themselves to the viewer. The eyes will be kept busy, but the soul is unlikely to be awoken from its slumber.

Like an Easter egg, 'The Wild' is beautifully presented and will enthral children, but is ultimately hollow. If only disappointing movies would come just once a year.

Séamus Leonard