Boy and the World

At the Movies Blog
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Not since the animated Anastasia or the animated segments of Pink Floyd’s The Wall, did I ever think an animated film needed a joint before viewing. Although I’m guessing if you lit up before this, you’d still enjoy those vibrant colors, but might miss the various messages the film had. Perhaps not. They weren’t the most subtle of messages.

Ale Abreu’s Boy and the World is up for an Oscar for “best animated film” and it’s out of Brazil. No need to worry about subtitles. There’s not much dialogue and what is said, you won’t be able to understand. It doesn’t really matter, as you’ll have no problem following along.

It’s interesting as the stick-figure boy on a white canvas, with animation that starts out looking like coloring book drawings, gradually get more and more animated and beautiful.

While it starts as a somber tale of a boy looking to reconnect with an absent father who left for the big city to find work… it quickly becomes a heavy-handed movie with messages about politics, textiles, war, the working-class.

Oh brother. A little of that goes a long way, and when it got to the point where real video shows trees being cut down and pollution spewing in the air, I wondered if I walked into the wrong film and it was really Michael Moore’s latest. My girlfriend leaned in at that moment and said, “Are they trying to brainwash us?”

One scene has music notes gliding up to the sky to create a gorgeous, colorful, rising Phoenix. It’s shot down by a black raven — created by the evil military. Oy. I was half expecting to hear Buffalo Springfield sing “There’s a man with a gun over there/Telling me, I got to beware!”

The film is still an enjoyable treat for the eyes (and the ears, with the interesting sounds we hear of the city). We get a lot of glimpses of where the boy has traveled and it all culminates in a very powerful ending.

A lot of the scenes worked. Some of them didn’t, and made me cringe. A few I’m on the fence about. It was cute watching a TV showing one commercial after another, but I’m not so sure how necessary the constant billboards of ads were. It also made me wonder if this is a movie kids could enjoy. The messages will obviously go over their heads, so unless they want to just see some stunning visuals (and an annoying alto flute song we hear over and over)….

This could’ve been wonderful. Instead, its simplistic moral messages made me think this would’ve worked better as an animated short. The anti-consumerism stuff needed to be more subtle. And as somebody that had my dad leave when I was four…and I had searched a few different times before finding him…it should’ve had a stronger impact on me.

This gets 2 stars out of 5.

But I give 4 stars to the new deal the Angelika Film Center is having (that’s the only theater showing this Oscar nominated film). They have an “After the Film” deal which gets you 50% off all food and drinks with your ticket stub, encouraging patrons to discuss the movie they just watched. We got the Triple Mac ‘n Cheese which was good, the Deconstructed Baked Potato, which was covered in deliciousness (bacon, nacho cheese, sour cream, etc), a Tomato Basil Pizza, as well as a medium popcorn and soda — all for around $20. You can’t beat that.

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