Call of the Wild: A CGI dog does incredible things for two hours
If you watched Cats and thought we needed a better movie about our favourite domestic animals, then I’m here to tell you that The Call of the Wild is a much more engaging (though much less sexual) movie than the adapted musical. In his live-action debut, Chris Sanders adapts the classic book of the same name to the big screen with decent results.
Buck, the protagonist, is a gigantic CGI dog that’s too big and wild to be anyone’s pet. He’s loud and always finds a way to cause a ruckus, much to the chagrin of his owner, Judge Miller (Bradley Whitford). Despite being a four-legged animal, Buck very much understands English. In various scenes, the human actors talk to the dogs as if they’ve been speaking the language for years. Funny to watch, sure, but very stupid.
The plot of the movie is fair and the stakes are somewhat high in certain scenes; Buck is a companion dog to the town’s judge, then gets kidnapped and sold to traders in Alaska, only to join a team of sled-dogs to help Perrault (Omar Sy) deliver mail across the remote area he had been designated to. Buck then gets sold again to Hal (Dan Stevens) and his team to help drag them to a place rumoured to be surrounded by a plethora of gold.
The Call of the Wild is a coming-of-age film for dogs and it survives its 100-minute runtime solely on its strong heart and free-spirited attitude. The plot, despite it being a classic, is somewhat boring and redundant and offers little in the way of imagination. The acting is passable and Harrison Ford’s performance as John is fine, even if uninspired. Ford looks genuinely tired and understandably so as the only great role he’s had in the last few years was in Blade Runner 2049.
Ford’s narration is quite annoying. The plot is simple enough for anyone to follow, yet he interjects at almost any plot advancement to explain what Buck was feeling as if it hadn’t already been conveyed through his computer-crafted facial expressions.
The movie also pushes itself with simple humour meant to entertain the generic movie-goer but fails to resonate with the audience after you realize the gags are the same as the ones you’d experience at home with your much more real dog.
There have definitely been worse movies than The Call of the Wild but there are so many others that are much more deserving of your time. Come for the dogs and stay, well, only for the dogs because the CGI made them cute. The rest of it is forgettable.
Film still from trailer.