Animal Crackers is an absolute failure: Movie Review

Animal Crackers movie
Animal Crackers is an absolute failure: Movie Review
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Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins is the Oakville News publishing assistant and arts reporter. He started with the news in 2016 and now specializes in current and live events, film, theatre and entertainment. He comes from Campbellton, NB and has lived in Oakville more than 20 years. Proud Sheridan grad of Journalism and Performing Arts. Twitter: @MrTyCollins

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Animal Crackers, Netflix’s new animated family film, is accomplishing a dismal feat and setting an unfortunate record. Not only is it possibly the worst movie on Netflix and the worst movie so far this year, but I’ve got a new record to bestow it.

It might be the worst movie I’ve ever reviewed for this newspaper.

Animal Crackers is worthy of a thesis longer than most people would care to read about how disastrously wrong every aspect of its creation is. Every part of production is ghastly to look at and listen to.

The animation is cheap, poorly rendered and grotesque. The characters are ugly and the faces are static. Spoken dialogue and mouth movements are often out of sync and there’s a nauseating number of toilet jokes.

But these are the easy parts. Once we get to more important matters like a screenplay, story, plot, original songs, voice acting and editing, it’s even worse.

So how did it come to be the work of all possible elements went so disastrously wrong? It’s because of bad source material, poor leadership from two bad directors, and an attitude of laziness from the team.

Animal Crackers’ laziness makes it unbearable to watch

The film’s premise is Owen (John Krasinski) and his wife Zoe (real life wife Emily Blunt) met as kids at a circus owned by Owen’s uncle. When his uncle passes away, another uncle, the evil Horatio (Ian McKellen) tries to take over and find out what made his brother’s circus so successful.

His uncle’s secret? A magic box of animal crackers. When you eat a cracker, you magically turn into the animal matching its shape. Now Owen and Zoe use the magic crackers to relaunch the circus.

The premise is silly, but that’s not the problem. The problem is a list totalling dozens of plot holes that were simply filled with unfunny toilet humour.

Co-director Tony Bancroft is a legendary Disney animator, responsible for animating iconic characters such as Cogsworth in Beauty & the Beast, Iago in Aladdin and Pumbaa in The Lion King. His work on those films earned him the job of directing Disney’s Mulan in 1998 – an excellent film.

That, however, was 22 years ago. His limited work since then includes animating theme park safety videos, a 2011 Smurfs Christmas special and storyboarding 2016’s widely panned Norm of the North. How the mighty fall.

Now, Animal Crackers will go down his master disaster-piece. He co-directs with Scott Christian Sava, who wrote the graphic novel the movie is based on. Between the two of them, not one aspect is the film is taken seriously, and it feels like nobody cared about anything that was made for it.

Some highlights from what went wrong

The dialogue is hammy, and that can be overlooked. But the wide array of plot holes is insulting. What are the relationships between the family members in the circus?

As an example, Owen is the main character. He can’t exist without parents that are never mentioned. Yet somehow his uncles are who viewers are supposed to care about? Like the crackers’ magic rules, this is something else never explained.

Worse still, every actor overplays the part with ad-libs left, right and centre. Every joke that gets made is tied to farts, burps, poop, or a clown spraying water so it looks like an adult peed their pants. Each one sounds more like a deleted scene that accidentally got into the final movie because the editors stopped caring.

This is the tip of the iceberg. I kept a running list of questions while watching the film, almost none of which got answered.

Animal Crackers

If this is supposedly a musical film, why are there only three songs? And why does Ian McKellen, the villain, sing all three of them? The directors cast Emily Blunt (a star of several musicals) and had her sing nothing whatsoever.

The songs are abhorrent – especially the opening, “Welcome”, sung by a young Horatio. It’s less a song and more a badly written poem mixed over a track of out-of-sync music.

As if the character designs weren’t off-putting enough, the final 30 minutes offers something truly disturbing. The villainous henchmen eat different halves of multiple crackers, turning them into disfigured animal monsters. Did nobody think how terrifying this would be to their target audience of preschoolers?!

One major subplot is Owen’s job of helping his former co-worker Binkley (Raven Symoné) invent a new line of dog treats. Yet halfway in the movie he abandons her entirely with no reason.

Animal Crackers should never have been released

Most choices made by every character in the movie, in fact, seem to have no basis or explanation. Everything happens just because the script says so, and that’s how the actors perform it, too.

The creative laziness is obvious from voice talent, producers, and animators alike. Don’t believe me? The movie was recorded and animated in 2015 – it’s taken five years for anyone to be convinced the movie should see the light of day.

Maybe it’s no surprise something this bad came from a co-production of three studios that have never made a movie before. The other thing these producers have made is last year’s Wonder Park. Astonishingly, this talking animal movie is even worse.

Animal Crackers

Kids shouldn’t see it. Families shouldn’t see it. Nobody should see it. It’s an ugly, unpleasant stain on the careers of everyone who made it. It should only enjoyed by vultures determined to inhale every movie possible.

I’ve written hundreds of reviews in the nearly four years of writing for Oakville News, and I’ve never been so embarrassed and ashamed while watching a movie.

How embarrassed? My two viewing companions and I, both avid animation fans and artists themselves, needed to pause the movie twice while viewing to relieve ourselves from the abomination on screen. It was physically painful to watch.

In short? Nobody should ever have to see this

The only three previous films I’ve scored a full zero to are Snatched, Winchester and A Dog’s Journey. The two worst animated films I’ve reviewed are this year’s Scoob! and 2017’s The Emoji Movie. Even so, I would recommend any of them over Animal Crackers.

If you want great animation on Netflix, try The Willoughbys or Next Gen. Heck, if you want Danny DeVito in a circus movie, he’s got another one (The One and Only Ivan) coming out in a few weeks.

Not only is Animal Crackers perhaps the worst movie I have ever reviewed in the history of this newspaper, but I believe the world would be a better place if this movie had never been made.


Animal Crackers
0 out of 10

G, 1hr 45mins. Animated Family Musical Fantasy Disaster.
Directed by Tony Bancroft and Scott Christian Sava.

Starring John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Ian McKellen, Danny DeVito, Raven Symoné, Sylvester Stallone, Wallace Shawn, Patrick Warburton, Lydia Rose Taylor and Gilbert Gottfried.
Now available to stream on Netflix for subscribers.

Read more reviews and entertainment news @MrTyCollins on Facebook and Twitter.


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