Monday, September 13, 2004

Easter Egg Escapade

* ½ (out of four) for adults; higher for young kids, perhaps
Seen 11 September 2004 at Loews Boston Common #16 (Boston Film Festival)

"In attendance: Co-stars Nancy Kerrigan and Joe Pantoliano". I've got to admit, that had me intrigued, just as an oddball pairing. Kerrigan's a local semi-celbrity, but was an in-demand character actor going to fly cross-country from the set of Dr. Vegas to promote an animated film in which he plays a rooster? Well, no. No Joey Pants, and instead I wound up seated directly behind the director for a movie that I really needed Christin and Madison Weatherbee to help me judge.

See, the girls are six and three, the daughters of a friend of my mother's. They're great kids, and the approximate age of this movie's target audience. I usually enjoy movies in the G/PG range, but that's family movies, made for all age groups. Stuff aimed at five-year-olds specifically, though - I mean, if you can read this review, you just might not be able to get it.

The repetition, for instance. One character is named "Good Gracious Grasshopper", and says "good gracious" approximately twenty times in the first five minutes; and many other characters have nicknames or phrases that they repeat again and again. Drives thirty-year-old men nuts, it does, but I've read that it's good for small chidren. Same for the movie's slow pace, and the very clear voices everyone speaks in. Things that might seem to be a weekness to even a grade-schooler might be just what a pre-schooler needs.

Not many people will be blown away by the animation quality. The work was done in Poland, and appears to be completely hand-done. No computer effects, heck, according to the director, the cels were even hand-painted. And they look it, the movie doesn't have the smooth, three-dimensional look even the traditional animation of recent years features. Sometimes you'll see characters seem to have a low frame rate, or other glitches. Like when they're walking, and each step seems to take them a bit too far, like the characters being overlaid on the backgrounds are being nudged a little.

Some things are pretty nice - the score, for instance, is performed by a Czech orchestra, and writer/director/producer/composer has a pretty impressive voice cast - the aforementioned Pantoliano (and Kerrigan), Brooke Shields, James Woods, Eli Wallach, and Sandra Bernhard, for instance - considering that this isn't being made by Disney or DreamWorks, but an independent company along with First Look Media.

This isn't a movie that transcends its (likely) G rating. I, for instance, held back on asking why the residents of EggTown, split evenly between rabbits and chickens, were so enthusiastic about making Easter Eggs, and why the nasty Takits in the swamp (almost all roosters) were stealing the eggs, apparently to eat. They're chickens, for crying out loud, about to eat hard-boiled eggs. What this would be equivelent to for humans is too ghastly to think about.

But, the screening had a bunch of kids in attendance, with a theater employee or festival volunteer in a Good Gracious Grasshopper outfit. I wasn't going to spoil it for the kids.

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