It’s never fair to judge a children’s movie by adult standards, so I’m going to consider Against the Wild from a kid’s point of view, or at least from the standpoint of family viewing. When the Wade siblings Zach (CJ Adams) and Hannah (Erin Pitt) set out to visit their father, their main concern is that their mom (Natasha Henstridge) is not coming with them. Their parents are temporarily separated and Hannah is just now figuring out that that could mean divorce. As they pile onto a private plane with their trusty Malamute, Zach and Hannah never imagine that they will soon be crashing in the wilderness, unsure as to whether or not their pilot will survive or if they’ll ever see their parents again. And so, Zach and Hannah venture into the wilderness with just the supplies in their backpacks and their dog to keep them company.
Given the dire nature of Zach and Hannah’s situation, Against the Wild remains fairly cheerful in tone. The kids leave their injured pilot behind, possibly to die, and venture into the woods. Zach gives most of his bottled water to the dog, but then takes heart when they find a lake. Voila! More drinking water!! A raccoon breaks into their lunch bags, the kids encounter a bear, a wolf, and a fire, but everything works out all right. These are the sorts of perils that make a kids’ movie interesting, but there’s never any real sense of danger and the kids aren’t quite as bright as you’d hope. Luckily their lack of common sense has no consequence and no one gets eaten by a wild animal or comes down with Giardia. Instead, their efforts lead them ever closer to their parents, who are diligently searching for them as well. More importantly, Mr. and Mrs. Wade are searching together, making the likelihood of a full-on family reunion and happy ending almost inevitable.
Though Against the Wild is a bit on the simple side, it does get props for production values and high adventure. The notion of two children facing the wilderness with their dog is bound to appeal to any kid, and parents can rest assured that the film is both clean and age appropriate. From the perspective of an adult viewer, the movie won’t rock your world, but it makes for benign and wholesome entertainment.