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Marina Antunes [Film Festival 10.18.11] review action comedy drama

Year: 2010
Director: Jan Sverák
Writer: Jan Sverák
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Marina Antunes
Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Every year the VIFF programmers throw in a handful of films that are youth friendly. Last year, one of my favourite moments of the festival was sharing a huge room with hundreds of children as Garri Bardin's The Ugly Duckling made children laugh and cry and though this year's kind friendly fare wasn't quite as endearing as the tale of the ugly duck that turns into a beautiful swan, Jan Sverák's tale of a little stuffed animal that overcame adversity to find his way home was equally enchanting.

Kooky tells the tale of a saw-dust stuffed animal that shares a bed with six year old Ondra. The young boy suffers from asthma and his overprotective mother carefully explains that Kooky can't be washed and therefore needs to go. The little boy saves the teddy from the trash but while he's at school, mom reclaims the little bear for the trash heap. Kooky ends up at the local dump but by some magic (and perhaps a bit of child's wishful thinking) he gets up before being crushed by a truck. He narrowly escapes the bags which guard the dump and makes his way into the forest where he gets lost before running into a group of forest creatures.

The strange looking forest beings are mean things and Kooky finds himself under the protection of Hergot, the head cheese who protects the small group from intruders. He tries to get rid of Kooky but the little stuffed bear ingratiates himself on Hergot who eventually agrees to help Kooky get home. The trip is one full of adventure as the little red bear is still being chased by the guard bags from the dump but eventually he makes it home where Ondra is more than happy to see him.

Sverák's tale is one of wonder and magic, where bags take on shapes and drive around the forest in cars that look like they're made of tin cans in search of a little red bear. It's a child's imagination at work but one that is dotted by darkness and a sense of foreboding. Part of it is the story itself which pits the little bear against some pretty mean creatures and part of it is the puppet design that don't look like anything we've seen before and which seem at odds with their beautiful and lush surroundings. Not only is Kooky a wonderfully imaginative story, it's one that incorporates magic and realism with great care delivering a film that looks as good as anything else I've seen this year.

I really enjoyed Kooky with its intricate designs and the unconventional way it tells a very familiar tale of friendship and adventure. My one major fault with the film is the fact that it has been dubbed for wider distribution. Admittedly I can understand the reasoning behind it and it makes me feel a little better knowing that Sverák supervised and approved the translation but as usual, I found it distracting particularly considering the film opens with humans talking.

This is certainly a fun tale of adventure but not one suitable for all ages. There are a few colourful jokes and one character whose name sounds an awful lot like a bad word. It's safe for kids over 6, the eye raising jokes are adult enough that the kids are most likely to miss them, but be forewarned.

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(9 years ago) Reply

Been wanting to see this since I saw the trailer. Wonder when/if we'll get a DVD?


dave_or_did (9 years ago) Reply

You can get the English dubbed version of the film if you donate enough money to the latest Humble Indie Bundle charity package (plus you get a load of awesome indie games!) -

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