Saturday, March 28, 2015

César-winning animation from France: Omond and Solotareff's WOLFY: The Incredible Secret

Want to see what award-winning French animation looks like? Then, for your own interest -- not to mention that of your pre-teen kids or grandkids --  take a look at WOLFY: THE INCREDIBLE SECRET (Loulou, l'incroyable secret), a film out just now on DVD, digital and VOD, that makes a nice low-key change from some of the multi-multi-million-dollar, uber-flashy animated stuff out of Hollywood. This one's got a lot of charm and creativity going for it, along with off-kilter animation that's fun to view.

I have to admit that my just-turning 10-year-old granddaughter left the room around halfway along, but my just-turning-seven grandson couldn't get enough of the film and pronounced it "really good" and one that he intended to view again. (I suspect that if the leading character, Wolfy, has been female rather than male, my grandkids' interest level would have reversed.) For my part, I found it enjoyable to sit back and watch the work of filmmakers Eric Omond (show above at extreme right) and Grégoire Solotareff, (shown standing, center right), while observing the manner in which the younger generation reacted to the film.

The movie takes on a little oddity from its beginning, as its two main characters (and fast friends) turn out to be a rabbit and a wolf (above). There's no explanation for how this happened -- they just grew up together --  but the movie's plot (along with that :"incredible secret" of the title) has to do with the "history" of Wolfy and his family, and exactly what kind of a wolf he really is.

Due to an bizarrely arranged meeting between wolf, rabbit and a strange bird that morphs into a fortune teller (above), our two friends set off on an adventure to a far-away kingdom where Wolfy's "family" resides.

What makes the movie fun for both generations is the animators' take on various animals and how they play into the tale. Everything from wolves to hedgehogs, moles, cats, dogs and more have their chance to shine (or not). The animation itself is flat line with wonderful colors and a lot of imagination given over to odd angles and charming exaggeration (note the rabbit's ears, just above and three photos above).

Though the threat of harm befalling our heroes is ever-present, this is not a deal-breaker (only once did my grandson scoot over closer to me on the couch at a particularly exciting moment: "You getting scared?" I asked, and he nodded, yes).  Instead the movie mostly keeps its thrills in check to its charms.

There are fine chases (one in the car, above, another throughout the castle), a odd kind of "love" interest (the femme fatale/fashionista fox, below), a reunion with someone long missing, and a budding romance.

Mostly, though, there's that economical animation -- full of smart and clever moments and scenic set-pieces. With a running time of only 80 minutes, Wolfy: The Incredible Secret -- relatively swift and very colorful -- should capture the attention of kids, while leaving their parents in pretty good spirits, too.

The film -- dubbed in English by an OK voice cast, so those kids don't have to read subtitles -- is available now from Random Media & Cinedigm -- on DVD, VOD and via Digital Media.

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