Two scheming demon brothers, Wendell and Wild, enlist the aid of 13-year-old Kat Elliot to summon them to the Land of the Living.
After a 13 year absence, stop motion master Henry Selick is back with a new film for Netflix called ‘Wendell & Wild’. The film tells the tale of Kat (Lyric Ross), an orphaned girl who discovers a way that may allow her parents to be brought back to life, after they died in a car accident five years earlier where Kat was the only survivor. In the present day, Kat is a rebellious and troublesome teenager who listens to punk rock, has no time for authority, and blames herself for her parents deaths. One day, she discovers she can anticipate future events through premonition, which ultimately brings her into contact with the titular Wendell & Wild (Keegan-Michael Key & Jordan Peele), two demon brothers who promise her they can revive her parents if she manages to summon them into the land of the living.
There’s a lot going on in this stuffed screenplay and not much of it worked for me, with Selick throwing in a local conspiracy and a detailed underworld to the central plot centering on Kat’s parents. It seems to me he is attempting to blend the wacky humour of ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ with the dark core of ‘Coraline’, with the end result being that ‘Wendell & Wild’ doesn’t really do either aspect justice. The stop motion animation is cracking and it is always impressive how some filmmakers still persevere with more challenging animation methods in a digital world, but it does always stand out as unique and in many ways more engaging than the photorealistic nature of most animated movies nowadays. Key and Peele’s comedic chops come to the fore as the titular duo, whilst the rest of the voice cast is well built out by performers such as Angela Bassett, James Hong and Ving Rhames, whose character essentially feels like a companion character to Oogie Boogie from ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’. It’s a shame then that the screenplay doesn’t really do justice to the strong elements that underpin the movie.
‘Wendell & Wild’ is a disappointing movie from Henry Selick, a man who has proven himself as a master of the animation genre in the past, with an overly convoluted screenplay overshadowing some of the genuine heart and emotion that is intended to sit at the core of its story.
Directed By: Henry Selick
Starring: Lyric Ross, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Angela Bassett, James Hong and Ving Rhames
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