‘Animal Crackers‘ is a 2017 animated film directed by Scott Christian Sava and Tony Bancroft. It had its premiere at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in France but was not released in America until 2020 via Netflix.
Owen Huntington (John Krasinski) grew up watching his Uncle Buffalo Bob (James Arnold Taylor) and Aunt Talia’s (Tara Strong) circus which always featured incredible animal acts. There he met his wife Zoe (Emily Blunt), whose father Mr. Woodley (Wallace Shawn) convinces his son-in-law to work at his dog biscuit factory where Owen is constantly berated by his rude co-worker Brock (Patrick Warburton). Buffalo Bob and Talia are seemingly killed in a fire accidentally set by Bob’s jealous brother Horatio (Ian McKellen), causing Owen, Zoe, and their young daughter Mackenzie (Lydia Rose Taylor) inherit the circus, discovering the secret of the circus’ animal act. Talia’s aunt Esmeralda (Harvey Fierstein) gave the couple magical animal crackers that can turn the performers into animals, allowing for some amazing acts. Horatio and his henchman Zucchini (Gilbert Gottfried) are after the magical cookies and they will stop at nothing to get their hands on them to take over the circus.
Despite being made in 2014, this movie had a tumultuous time trying to get distributed in the United States. At one time The Weinstein Company was involved, but when that deal fell apart, it could only get international distribution. However, with Netflix, the original production companies Blue Dream Studios, Storyoscopic Films, and Odins Eye Entertainment were able to release it domestically.
As for the animation, it is not bad. It is nothing mind-blowing, but for something made in the early 2010s, it had some good creativity. The animators did a good job with the character designs and particularly the movement of the animals. Not to be nitpicky, but there was one scene with a circus dog running that you could tell was a bit incomplete, but that was the only place where I saw a glaring mistake in the CGI animation.
The voice actors are superb, having an ensemble cast. Besides those mentioned above, it also features Raven-Symoné, Sylvester Stallone, Danny DeVito, Tony Bancroft, and several others. They provided a mix of incredible talent that made the movie fun to listen to, especially husband and wife team John Krasinski and Emily Blunt who were excellent as the protagonist.
The plot did have a very interesting concept. Apparently, co-director Scott Christian Sava, who also helped write it, came up with the idea after listening to his children play. He would write a graphic novel, which I have not read, but I think it was a fun story that had a lot of twists and turns. It was a good time and enjoyed it.
Now the story does have a few holes, particularly with how the magic of the animal crackers works. There was also a long thirty-minute gap from when the circus magic was introduced to when the crackers were actually revealed. During that time, there was a lot of set-up and character montages that I thought could have been cut or replaced. However, while this may have been a bother to adults, I do not think its target audience of children would know the difference. They will have fun all the way through.
I also appreciate the themes in the film, it had a good emphasis on family and standing by them. It was enduring and refreshing to see with that kind of message when the family is under fire by media these days.
Bottom line, Animal Crackers is a fun movie that has an all-star cast list that everyone could enjoy. The kids will have a fun time and the parents can laugh right along with them.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Cartoonish violence, Rude humor
FAVORITE QUOTE: Where are these monsters?
Check out the trailer below:
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