Review: Eureka! Handmade stop-motion ‘Strike’ is different and good
If you’re looking for something offbeat to share with the kids in quarantine, you might dig “Strike.”
It’s a charmingly handmade stop-motion effort by upstart Gigglefish Animation Studios about a “mole with a goal.” Mungo is a young subterranean mammal just starting in the family business as a gold miner, but he would rather play soccer for England’s World Cup squad. Finally, a protagonist with whom we can all relate.
With the help of fellow mole Ryan and genius badger Hedy (really, isn’t “genius badger” enough to pique your interest?), Mungo tries to pursue his dream without upsetting his family. Meanwhile, bad guys want to sabotage the mine and take it for themselves. It’s the eternal struggle.
“Strike” is the first feature release by Gigglefish, which, from the looks of it, is a tiny outfit — the same names pop up over and over again in the credits. The movie struggles to marry its two threads (intrigue at the mine and the sports story). And do we really need to hear that many times what Mungo’s quest is?
But the handcrafted feel of the film is mainly a virtue, setting it apart from the vast majority of animated fare. The character designs can be disarmingly cute, with round, carpet-y heads and long, noodle limbs. The whole world of the movie looks made from things found around the neighborhood. The vocal performances, especially by Alex Kelly as Hedy and Naomi McDonald as awkward, septum-deviated Ryan, are on target. Kelly’s Hedy emerges as the most memorable character, a mechanical whiz with flat affect who seems fazed by nothing.
Director Trevor Hardy and his team show deft comic timing and seed amusing details throughout. There’s a recurring gag lampooning Bond villain Blofeld that has a rewarding payoff. For kids, there’s the friendship, the soccer story, the cute animals and abundant fart jokes and bathroom humor. For adults, there are visual puns such as the bad guy shaking a fish in anger, a head coach doing his best British Bill Belichick and tossed-off dad jokes (“How do you feel?” “I use my hands”).
Among the pile of animated entries for kids, “Strike” is something of a nugget.
Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Playing: Available April 17 on VOD
Trailer for the stop-motion kids’ movie “Strike.”
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