All I could think about while watching "Wild America," the supposed real-life childhood adventures of wildlife filmmakers Marty (Scott Bairstow), Mark (Devon Sawa) and Marshall Stouffer (Jonathan Taylor Thomas), was that it at least must be exciting for whatever clueless old guy is directing it.
Sure enough, the director turns out to be William Dear, the man responsible for such tragedies as "Timerider," "Harry and the Hendersons" and "Angels in the Outfield." Here, he follows the all too common Hollywood approach to films for kids: "Since kids can't comprehend real-life adventure, let's make everything look really fake."
Instead of telling a simple story and letting the natural suspense of each situation (like being chased by an alligator) run its course, Dear adds all kinds of implausible crap. During the alligator scene it isn't enough that Marshall is in a swamp with an alligator -- he has to accidentally throw his flashlight in the creature's mouth to boot. After Marshall almost drowns, the kids run into Danny Glover, who disappears like some kind of ghost. In their search for a bear cave they meet a woman who's had half her face gnawed off. In the bear cave, just before they're about to be eaten, they sing the bears to sleep, though you can barely hear them over the groans from the youthful audience.
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