a theatre, film & pop culture review
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Last year, one of my surest bets was a win for Wallace & Gromit’s latest adventure, A Matter of Loaf and Death. The fact that usually sentimental Academy voters actually bestowed the honor on Logorama, the flashy, snarky attack on American consumer culture, shocked the heck out of me. And this year, we have two very similar entries: first up is The Gruffalo, a charming if quaint (and rather boring to this viewer) beautifully CG’d fable about the mouse who cried Gruffalo. The second is Let’s Pollute, an overly-sarcastic, cleverly styled ‘toon (it looks straight out of the 1950s) that encourages us to NOT reduce, reuse, or recycle. It’s over-the-top-ness is a bit much, but that worked well for last year’s winner, so while The Gruffalo may seem the easy, family-friendly winner (hell, Helena Bonham Carter lends voice to one of the squirrely critters, so it’s basically another win for The King’s Speech), there’s no real telling which way the Academy will sway.
As for the other nominees: Madagascar follows one man’s personal (and rather spiritless) journey through his titular homeland through a variety of animated styles including CG and watercolors. While at first it’s quite lovely to visually behold, soon the ADD-like switch from one technique to another wears thin on its audience, bestowing a bit of a headache all around. The Lost Thing, on the other hand, has a stronger story (though a weak philosophy) as a boy attempts to find a home for a “lost thing” in a somewhat dreary, vaguely futuristic society. While visually striking, it simply lacks the punch of our final nominee, Day and Night. While not my favorite Pixar offering, this short that accompanied Toy Story 3 in theaters, is exceedingly charming and visually jubilant, cleverly demonstrating that we all have commonalities no matter how different we appear to be on the surface. For its energy and optimism alone, it wins my vote, but it may seem a bit old-fashioned (technique-wise) to voters and lose out to the more visually impressive Gruffalo.