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Call of the Wild

3-D indie "Call of the Wild" loses focus (literally) but gets by on its good-hearted demeanor and a gently sweet turn by white-bearded Christopher Lloyd as the heroine's protective gramps.

With:
With: Christopher Lloyd, Ariel Gade, Wes Studi, Aimee Teegarden, Devon Graye, Kameron Knox, Jaleel White, Joyce DeWitt, Veronica Cartwright, Timothy Bottoms, Devon Iott.

Alternately jerking the audience’s tears and splashing snow in their faces, 3-D indie “Call of the Wild” loses focus (literally) but gets by on its good-hearted demeanor and a gently sweet turn by white-bearded Christopher Lloyd as the heroine’s protective gramps. Pic’s other standout perf is given by the huge canine cast as Buck, an initially infirm, ultimately athletic dog/wolf hybrid that pulls a 10-year-old city girl over the line in a climactic sled race. Alas, kiddie auds likely won’t come along for the ride in big numbers for a limited-release film whose 3-D is fuzzier than Buck’s fur.

Shot on location in wintry Montana, “Call of the Wild” is related only loosely but cleverly to Jack London’s like-titled novel, which Lloyd’s character reads to his pigtailed granddaughter, triggering brief re-enactments of the original narrative. Among supporting players, Wes Studi underwhelms as a woodsman who walks fully armed down Main Street, while Veronica Cartwright makes a welcome appearance as a “Fargo”-style sheriff who allows a dogsled contest to determine the ownership of wild Buck. Too bad the animal’s protruding nose is the only feature that demands the third dimension.

Call of the Wild

Production: A Braeburn Entertainment release of a Vivendi Entertainment, Braeburn presentation of a Check Entertainment production, in association with 21st Century 3D. Produced by Nancy Draper, Gary Draper, Richard Gabai. Executive producer, Richard Iott. Co-producers, Larissa Michel, Stacy Fish. Directed by Richard Gabai. Screenplay, Leland Douglas, from the novel by Jack London.

Crew: Camera (color, DV, 3-D), Scott Peck; editors, Axel Hubert, Lawrence Maddox; music, Deeji Mincey, Boris Zelkin; art director, Caitlin Pashalek; costume designer, Annalisa Adams. Reviewed at Carmike 15, Apple Valley, Minn., June 12, 2009. MPAA Rating: PG. Running time: 87 MIN.

With: With: Christopher Lloyd, Ariel Gade, Wes Studi, Aimee Teegarden, Devon Graye, Kameron Knox, Jaleel White, Joyce DeWitt, Veronica Cartwright, Timothy Bottoms, Devon Iott.

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