Stream Your Heart Out: “Wendell and Wild”
by: Julia Hills
Just in time for Halloween, Henry Selick, director of many films including “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Coraline,” released a new stop motion film titled “Wendell and Wild.”
The film follows Kat, a thirteen-year-old orphan girl who is sent to an all-girls catholic school that hopes to rehabilitate her after run-ins with the law. At this school, Kat discovers she is connected to two demon brothers, Wendell and Wild. In a dream, Wendell and Wild promise to bring Kat’s parents back from the dead if she summons them to the land of the living. Kat complies, and with the help of her new friend Raúl, a transgender student at her school, she summons her demons.
With a huge name like Henry Selick, the first thing that’s always brought up is the animation. It’s weird, it’s creepy, and it’s absolutely stunning. “Wendell and Wild” keeps Selick’s traditional claymation style, which brings the characters to life in ways computer animation simply couldn’t. Every character is incredibly unique, and the animation of movement is so smooth someone could assume it was done with a computer if they weren’t familiar with Selick’s other works.
The plot is not quite as successful as the animation. The set-up seems like it will be a typical coming of age story where the character is in unique circumstances, with a fanciful twist. Technically, this is what happens. However, there are multiple story lines that are meant to meet cleanly at the end. There are four to five story lines, most of which are not touched on at all or are barely mentioned. Surprisingly, they’re then thrown back in at the end.
Megan Navarro, a writer for Bloody Disgusting, puts it perfectly, calling the movie “entertaining, if a bit overstuffed.”
Also notable is the movie’s impressive diversity. No character is the same as another. There are characters of all races and backgrounds. There are characters who are disabled and some who are part of the LGBTQ+ community. This movie covers them all. There’s never a moment where someone feels out of place or forced in either. Where some media includes unique characters simply to seem more diverse, every character in this film has their place. In an industry where diversity is seen as a prop, or is purposefully left out, it is refreshing to see a movie that effortlessly includes everyone.
“Wendell and Wild” is a gorgeous addition to the stop motion style and will likely fall into place with the other classics done by Selick and his team. This spooky, heartfelt coming of age story is worth giving a watch.
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