Wendell & Wild

Wendell & Wild
Original title:Wendell & Wild
Director:Henry Selick
Running time:105 minutes
Release date:21 october 2022
The story of two demon brothers, Wendell and Wild, who ask Kat Elliot, a guilt-ridden teenager, to help them join the world of the living. But what Kat wants in return propels them into an adventure as strange as it is comical, a fantasy epic that defies the laws of life and death, all told through the handheld creativity of stop-motion.

Mulder's Review

As Halloween is approaching and it is time to celebrate the memory of our loved ones who have left us, the new animated film by Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), James and the Giant Peach (1996), Coraline (2009)) after more than thirteen long years of absence is finally here and it must be recognized that it is a new timeless masterpiece both in terms of beautiful animation and in terms of the storyline that benefits from many ideas that work wonderfully. Far from being a simple stop-motion horror tale. The script that director Henry Selick co-wrote with Jordan Peele castigates amusement parks as much as politics and the malpractices of the wealthy class capable of the greatest ignominy to prosper and make money on the backs of the most destitute.

 Hell as seen by the screenwriters Henry Selick and Jordan Peele has a false air of an amusement park capable of inventing the worst tortures for the poor damned souls who will know the worst pain forever. Two of the demon children, Wendell (Keegan-Michael Key) and Wild (Peele) of the gigantic master of the underworld Buffalo Belzer (Ving Rhames) and who have as a mission to inject a strange product able to make his hair grow back, have the wish to create on earth a huge amusement park. To succeed in returning to earth Wendell and Wild will try to manipulate the young orphan Kat Elliot (Lyric Ross) and carry out their mission. 

With the product that they inject in hell to their father to make his hair grow back, Wendell and Wils also realize that this product is able to make the dead come back to life and they are going to propose to the young Kat Elliott to make her parents come back to life after a terrible car accident. Wanting to earn as much money as possible, they will also bring back to life the main shareholders, dead for many years, of the city where the Rust Bank is located. Kat Elliot, her resurrected parents, Wendell and Wild will have to put their differences aside to fight against a couple of rich landlords who want to raze their town to the ground to create a huge prison. Kat Elliot is also revealed to have the gift of seeing the future but also possessed by her own inner demons since a demon bit her and brought out a demon fed by her inner fury following the loss of her parents and the bullying she suffered at the orphanage and school.

Henry Selick has lost none of his way of describing the present world and of giving real importance to many creatures as it was the case with the unforgettable The Nightmare Before Christmas. The influence of Tim Burton remains present in this film with its many creatures to which the director infuses a real psychological thickness as in the presence in the female lead of Kat Elliot a young rebellious teenager with green hair who seems to want no friends and claims her difference from the other young boarders of a boarding school located at the top of a hill in the dreary town of Rust Bank. In spite of a rather complex scenario that shines with a rare intelligence as much on its development as on the way of approaching the main characters, Wendell & Wild is the very essence of family entertainment that will please young children as much by its universe close to a tailor-made tale for Halloween as for adults for whom animation is by no means a minor genre.

Once again, director Henry Selick knew how to surround himself perfectly not only by collaborating on the script with the virtuoso Jordan Peele (he is also the voice of Wild) but also Keegan-Michael Key, Angela Bassett, Lyric Ross, James Hong and Ving Rhames. In the same way the music signed by the composer Bruno Coulais easily reinforces the action of the film and gives it a special tone in some scary scenes.  The richness of the vocal cast gives this film an undeniable added value and especially shows that stop-motion animation has kept. It is not a coincidence that at the end of the year the new film by Guillermo del Toro and Mark Gustafson which will also be available on Netflix was shot in stop-motion.

Wendell & Wild shows that the director Henry Selick is a true genius of animation and his film is undeniably one of the best animated films of the year, far from the Disney films that are too mainstream and often lack a more adult and violent retelling of modern fairy tales that we have recently discovered. Wendell & Wild stands out as a masterpiece, a work to devour as soon as it will be available on October 28 on Netflix.

Wendell & Wild
Directed by Henry Selick
Screenplay by Henry Selick, Jordan Peele
Based on Wendell & Wild (unpublished) by Henry Selick, Clay McLeod Chapman
Produced by Henry Selick, Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, Jordan Peele, Win Rosenfeld
Starring Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Angela Bassett, Lyric Ross, James Hong, Ving Rhames
Cinematography : Peter Sorg
Edited by Robert Anich, Sarah K. Reimers
Music by: Bruno Coulais
Production companies: Netflix Animation, Monkeypaw Productions, Gotham Group, Principato-Young Entertainment
Distributed by Netflix
Release dates : September 11, 2022 (TIFF), October 21, 2022 (United States), October 28, 2022 (Netflix)
Running time : 105 minutes

Seen on October 23, 2022 (Netflix Screener press)

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