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Born to Be Wild (1995)

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Commentaries on this disc:

Commentary 1: Director John Gray and screenwriter Paul Young Rating:7.0/10 (1 vote) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by frankasu03 on February 8th, 2017:Find all reviews by frankasu03
After the big success of "Free Willy" (1993), there seemed to be an onslaught of family-friendly films centered around the exploits of a large animal. Clearly, the intent by "Warner Brothers" was to recapture that magic with "Black Beauty" (1994). A classic story, but a disappointment at the box office. Add other efforts such as "Lassie" that underperformed, and the climate that "Born to Be Wild" was birthed in, is evident. That's the main theme a listener will take away after hearing from Director John Gray, and from the co-writer Paul Young. These gents appear to have been recorded separately, as they never engage in any "back-and-forth" dialogue. There is an occasional snicker from whom I can only assume to be Mr. Gray's moderator. All this preamble is just to assure the audience that 'Born' originally was meant to be a more somber picture, like "Free Willy." The creators aimed for an austere "Message Movie," that could entertain, generate a reasonable amount of laughs, and leave audiences with an important reminder about our neighbors in the Animal Kingdom. While Paul Young's comments never address the on-screen action, they are nonetheless beneficial to aspiring screenwriters. One of the rare instances I've heard a writer advise other writers to accept the inevitable changes one's script will ultimately undergo. Director Gray's comments are more helpful in dishing trivia and production stories to satisfy any fans of this film. Interesting casting gossip, like the fact that the lead part of "Rick" came down to Wil Horneff and one Brad Renfro (fresh off his hit "The Client"). That Troy Evans had to step in for William Sanderson when the shooting schedule ran into flux. And, boy, did this TV Director learn the havoc that weather can play on a tri-state shoot. Ironically, it never rained during the Washington State shooting, but poured during the final shooting days in Hawaii. The Director makes sure to give an enormous amount of "kudos" to the Gorilla team, especially Don McLeod and Talia Paul. These actors persistently learned how to capture genuine mannerisms by live Gorillas through intense training and study. However, "schtick" ultimately proved to be the order of the day. Following recent, more austere fare (like 'Black Beauty'), it was deemed by the Warners' execs that a more playful, if even juvenile, approach would guarantee a better draw. Subsequent "test-screening" seemed to confirm those desires when many pratfalls, bodily noises (as in burping and sneezing), and physical stunts gained the highest marks from prospective viewers. But, as they say, too many cooks can spoil the broth. As Gray admits, graciously, "Born to Be Wild" is a feathered fish, that seemed to silly for older teenagers to embrace, and yet, too upsetting for youngsters. After the opening scenes of, respectively, gorilla hunting and car thievery, you immediately understand the Director's concern. Now, if only the makers of "Congo" could be dragged before the mic, to explain themselves, LOL. 7/10