I usually really dig these mega-release family pictures loaded with snarky asides to the parents forced to bring their kids. And, indeed, I was enthralled by the first half hour. Seeing the Lion, Zebra, Hippo and (especially) Giraffe run around a surprisingly accurate New York City (Temple Emanu-El is in, like, 15 shots!) is a hoot and a half. Then, as we moved into act two, I started getting exhausted. And fidgety. The movie just became way to manic for me — and I got really anxious. I actually had to turn the DVD off for a few hours. It was a visceral reaction — too loud, too much slapstick, too much quick-cutting. Maybe I’m getting old. Y’know, I’m sure they didn’t mean it, but there is a remarkable philosophical undercurrent to this film about Nature/Nurture and, in a way, society reversing natural tendencies. (I mean, a Lion and a Zebra are friends?!) When Lion tries to eat Zebra, it actually made me a little sad. Not because I cared about the Zebra, but for the young kids going to see this movie having to face facts about the fallacy of fun anthropomorphized animals.
Jordan Hoffman is a New York-based writer and film critic working for The Guardian, Vanity Fair, Thrillist, Times of Israel, NY Daily News and elsewhere.
He is the host of ENGAGE: The Official Star Trek Podcast, a member of the New York Film Critics Circle and challenges you to a game of backgammon.