The Nickelodeon animated TV series about a gonzo family who make wildlife documentaries gets bumped to the big screen. Eliza Thornberry (voice of Lacey Chabert) has the ability (as granted by a shaman) to communicate with animals, but canít tell anyone or sheíll lose it. In this African outing, the precocious pre-teen loses a cheetah cub to poachers (Rupert Everett and Marisa Tomei) and gets shipped off to a British boarding school for her troubles. The poachers then implement a sadistic scheme to slaughter a herd of migrating elephants and Eliza stops at nothing to wangle her way back to the Serengeti.
The old-school animation directed by Cathy Malkasian and Jeff McGrath is impressive, and the content has enough witty barbs to keep adults entertained. The best distractions come from Elizaís pop-culture-craving, Valley-girl-speaking older sister (Danielle Harris), the rambunctious pet chimp named Darwin (Tom Kane), and Donnie, the incoherent, grub-digging younger brother (Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers). Itís a fun family safari chock full of environmental lessoning. (80 minutes)