This is an inventive, amusing children’s film with an appealingly dark turn, which helps it stand out among so many inventively animated children’s films of this century.
I’ve seen a number of these digital stop motion animated kids films from this century, and lots of them are really appealing to look at, full of all sorts of creative ideas and unique imagery. But so many of these films follow fairly stereotypical children’s film plots, they usually lose me along the way, even when I admire the animation.
But this film is different – it is pretty damn dark, sort of in the realm of animated Tim Burton stuff I remember from when I was young enough to find this kind of thing scary. I can imagine parents need to be pretty careful with this one, because I know that I would have been scared of it at 11. (Mind you, I once ran out of a room during Clue around that age, I was pretty much scared of everything slightly creepy.)
I know nothing about the novel its sourced from but it sure seems like the source material has a lot do with how relatively creepy/scary this is for a kid’s movie, and it seems like there wasn’t much of an adjustment to the film, which is to the filmmakers’ credit. Too often i feel like filmmakers (or, more likely, film distributors) don’t trust their audiences and worry instead about how the most unreasonable of parents will react to a film like this. It’s nice to a see a darker kid’s film with the courage to scare children a little but then reward them for it. (Also, the pretty clear moral sure doesn’t hurt.)
Anyway, this is definitely the rare kid’s film which holds up entirely for adult viewers without children. And it’s nice to look at.