THE WILD LIFE
Robinson Crusoe is a principally Belgian production. It comes from nWave Pictures, a Brussels-based animation company that have been active since 1994. Under director Ben Stassen, they have specialised in ride and IMAX films, having previously made the feature-length animated films Fly Me to the Moon (2008), Sammys Adventures (2010) and its sequel Sammys Adventures 2 (2013), and The House of Magic (2013). Robinson Crusoe has been their first film so far to get a wide US release where it was redubbed and for some reason retitled The Wild Life.
nWaves take on the Robinson Crusoe story is one of the most variant and wacky versions of the tale so far one in which the island is inhabited by talking animals who befriend Crusoe and help him build his home. Man Friday now becomes a parrot named Tuesday. There are no cannibals; their role has been replaced by a vicious litter of cats from the shipwreck (someone involved in the film clearly doesnt like cats, which are all portrayed as irredeemably malicious and evil).
Robinson Crusoe/The Wild Life is an amiable film. It is clearly the Belgians trying to emulate the success of American mainstream animated fare. At such, Robinson Crusoe did minor box-office towards the end of the summer 2016 season. Here the story has been focused less on Crusoes struggle for survival than the talking animals. Indeed, Crusoe is regarded as an amiable bumbler and fails to get his treehut built until the animals pitch in and help him (amid much in the way of slapstick shenanigans). The animals are the typical characters that appear in commercial family-friendly animation. Naturally, much of the film is centred around their antics even more so than the film is ever concerned with Crusoes survival drama, which is given fairly minimal focus bar the scene where the animals help build his house. The films big set-piece is a vigorous scene with the animals fending off an attack by the litter of cats in and around the treehut. It all amounts to an amiable but lightweight and instantly forgettable film.
By curious coincidence, a far better Belgian animated film about desert island castaways befriending animals turned up the same year with the Studio Ghibli co-production The Red Turtle (2016).