stop-motion animation

IN THEATERS (SF) – “My Life as a Zucchini”

rsz_courgette31My Life as a Zucchini (2017; Dir.: Claude Barras)

GRADE: B

By Daniel Barnes

*Opens Friday, March 3, at the Landmark Opera Plaza in San Francisco and the Landmark Shattuck in Berkeley.

Spoiler alert: this film is not about a little boy who transforms into a zucchini.  That goofball title and the Pop Art-meets-Cubist character designs do nothing to prepare you for this relatively realistic and fairly dark portrait of abused and abandoned children.  Director and co-writer Barras adapts a 2002 novel from French writer Gilles Paris into a stop-motion animated coming-of-age dramedy.  It’s an interesting choice of format for the adaptation, given the subject matter – a boy accidentally kills his alcoholic mother and gets sent to a rural orphanage, where he feuds and bonds with his damaged housemates, and is frequently visited by a kindly policeman – and the movie possesses a naturalistic tone, style, sound and pace quite unlike anything else in the current world of animated film.  But that sore thumb status doesn’t always work in the film’s favor – as much as My Life as a Zucchini is French-in-a-good-way (intelligent, searching, free from repression), it’s also pretty French-in-a-bad-way (formless, meandering, pitiless yet sentimental).  Animation aficionados need to ingest this thing post haste; all others, tread lightly.

Daniel Barnes @ the SN&R/CSIndy – 9/25 issues

index#barnesyardbumps:

*With the excellent films Coraline, ParaNorman, and now The Boxtrolls, the stop-motion animation studio Laika has firmly established itself as the smartest and therefore best purveyor of animated entertainment working today. It certainly helps their case that Pixar has become obsessed with sequels, that Pixar’s parent company Disney still holds a fetish for singing princesses, and that DreamWorks Animation mostly produces mediocrities. A much larger factor in Laika’s pre-eminence, however, is the consistency of the three features that its produced over the last five years. All three films have promoted a visually compelling house style and a commendably weird tone while still maintaining individual identities.

index2*This review was also printed in the Colorado Springs Independent.

#barnesyarddumps:

*Like most of Kevin Smith’s films, Tusk is all dick and no balls.