'Animal Crackers' Review: A sweet and passable family drama that doesn't take itself too seriously
We've forgotten what it feels like to watch fun animation film that doesn't need much brainpower. And that's why 'Animal Crackers' is here for
Over the years, animated films such as 'Coco' and 'Inside Out' have managed to tug at the heartstrings, with their deep philosophical undertones hidden under the guise of colorful animations, distinct characters and a song to match. Let's face it, we've grown used to the fact that most animation films have a message to relay, and so we keep our tissues in handy. For the most part, we've forgotten what it feels like to watch a meaningless and fun animation film that doesn't require much brainpower. And that's what 'Animal Crackers' is here for. The film had been stuck in limbo since 2017, till Netflix finally flew to its rescue and as a result, kids across the globe have something fun to watch during a gloomy lockdown.
'Animal Crackers' doesn't take itself entirely too seriously, and that's the best thing about it. It's an absurd, bizarre premise that translates into quite an enjoyable film, even if the animation is rather poor, a little disconcertingly so sometimes and the stellar voice cast can only take it so far. The story is unusual: A man decides to save his family circus with the help of some magic crackers that can turn people into animals. The execution is a little blotchy at points, and falls into every staid trope that we've encountered over the years, including the speeches about family, a difficult choice to be made, pleas to make the bad guy good, a fateful love triangle and so on.
The characters are uni-dimensional with hardly any scope for greys. There's the villain Horatio (Ian McKellen, who delves into his Gandalf glory days for the role), and there's the chill blue-haired Owen Huntington (John Krasinsky), who is determined to put his family above everything else. You know, that old chestnut. His wife is of course voiced by Krasinsky's real wife Emily Blunt, and she fits perfectly into the calm wifely and maternal archetype, who is there for moral support and encouragement. In the middle of all this, you have the clown Chesterfield (Danny DeVito), as well as Mario Henchman (Gilbert Gottfried), who can only converse in third-person. It's all very entertaining for sure, but at times, the over-the-top dialogues and shrieking to emphasize humor does tend to go right through your brain. What is not okay is Harvey Fierstien voicing the 'obese' and rather purposefully busty gypsy lady, just for laughs. Didn't we move past casual fat-shaming for jokes? Apparently, we didn't.
This does not have half the magic of 'Coco', or 'Klaus', even though it might have had the potential to do so, but 'Animal Crackers' came and delivered what it promised: A couple of laughs, a sweet family story, and some magical fantasy thrown in. Does it make for a watch? Well, maybe just a one-time one. You get the feeling you've tasted such cookies before.