Old Fashioned adventure with Kids who are smarter than the adults!
This is a good family adventure with a message that never gets preachy. The adventure is just suspenseful enough for kids, without getting too frightening. Your kids will be yelling at the screen to tell the kid in peril (Mike) what he should do. You might just catch yourself doing the same time. Film has the obvious "made for commercial break" pauses, but it wasn't too annoying. The bad guy has a very stereotypically evil laugh which my husband and I found a bit cheesy, but the kids we watched it with thought it was just the right laugh for a bad guy to have.
The kids picked up on how the sidekick may not have been a bad guy, but he was making bad choices by following along the evil guy because it was easier than standing up for himself. I figure the value of the conversation that we had on that point was worth the price of the DVD all on it's own! Our family really enjoyed it and my daughter is already begging me to find the other two films!
I read a lot of reviews from people that seemed underwhelmed by this film. I wonder really what movie they were watching or if they went into the cinema with their bias against animated stories firmly in place.
We just watched this film and my daughter (8 going on 18!), my husband and I all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The story was interesting and didn't rely too heavily on prior knowledge from the show (if anything, the story ignored the show to the point of forgetting about an episode where Debbie tried boarding school and hated it). The writers also didn't rely too much on Donnie-antics to carry the story. The little there was didn't seem offensive or over the top to us. The soundtrack was terrific, especially the song "Father and Daughter" by Paul Simon and the music by Peter Gabriel. The animation was "Klasky/Csupo" style, but was smoother than the TV version is.
All in all, it was a fun and even (dare I say it?) thought provoking way to spend an afternoon. The discussions that we have had today about how some families are different from others, the environment and the poaching of animals and "daddies and daughters" were worth the price of admission alone. Add to that a good, fun film that didn't bore either the grownups or the daughter, and "The Wild Thornberrys" gets added to the "Must Buy" DVD list in our house!