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Animal Crackers – Movie Review

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Animal Crackers – Movie Review

Rating: B (Good)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Netflix

Animated movies can take a long time to make, what with the years spent on putting together the story, designing the characters, animating the film and other factors. Animal Crackers similarly is the result of multiple years of hard work, but it also found its release delayed for reasons beyond its control. Thankfully, Netflix has come to the rescue and has given it a worldwide audience on the streaming platform. The wait is worth it as directors Scott Christian Sava and Tony Bancroft’s passion for the project shines through. The best parts come from the family bond between the central characters and the imagination derived from seeing people turn into various animals.

After a long set-up, Animal Crackers eventually finds a groove when the blue-haired family man Owen’s arc begins. He has good chemistry with his family and there are some solid laughs gained from his employment at a dog biscuit factory. When he starts transforming into animals, the animators have a lot of fun injecting his personality into them. Carter Goodrich’s character designs have a charm to them, with both animals and humans looking distinct. While Owen and his wife Zoe present likeable leads, there is some strong comedic relief courtesy of Owen’s co-workers. Patrick Warburton gives some of the funniest line readings and his character is given some clever, fast-paced animation. Bancroft previously animated Kronk in The Emperor’s New Groove, so this serves as a bit of a reunion.

Binkley, a cook trying to create a game-changing dog biscuit, also steals the show thanks to her animation and an unrecognizable Raven-Symone providing her voice. While not an outright musical, Sava and Bancroft do include a number of montages and song sequences in the film. The stand-out is a montage where they match Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” perfectly with the visuals. The villain also gets a song written by Phineas & Ferb maestros Dan Povenmire, Jeff “Swampy” Marsh and Martin Olson. While most of Animal Crackers is a pleasant ride, the finale is where things really come together with the filmmakers taking full advantage of the main concept.

The film is probably at its strongest when showing the bond between the family and seeing how Owen copes with this new ability. Surprisingly, the villain is the most disappointing element. Ian McKellan brings his thespian chops to the role, but his antagonist took away from the main plot and there was frequently a desire to return to Owen and Zoe and their circus friends. While some paths taken by Animal Crackers are expected, the movie does throw in a few twists and turns and the foreshadowing is quite clever.

There is an undeserving stigma against smaller animated films, because they don’t have the budget or appearance of a Pixar movie. There is also apprehension against films aimed primarily at children. However, both still involve the talents of many artists working to create a story that can hopefully enchant a young audience. Animal Crackers presents a good amount of creativity and decent laughs, with Scott Christian Sava and Tony Bancroft’s direction bringing plenty of energy and charm. The voice cast never feels intrusive as they fit their characters. It’s great that Netflix has saved this movie and allowed for even more people to see its animal antics.

Stefan Ellison

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