Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Review: 'Kooky' by Jan Svěrák

One of the most obvious benefits of the Internet - perhaps the most obvious - is the potential for connectivity the likes of which have never been experienced in human history.  Virtually no corner of the world is off limits for others to experience and learn from.  This applies to entertainment as well.  Where once foreign films were once a week small theater affairs, or foreign music had to be found by rummaging through an obscure bin at a specialty music shop, we now can find whatever we're looking for online.  This is wonderful, because it allows to experience, say, Kooky, a delightful and heart-felt story by Czech filmmaker Jan Svěrák.

Kooky follows the story of the titular title character, a small pink stuffed toy who is discarded and must make his way from a landfill through the forest back to his owner, a young boy.  During his travels Kooky meets creatures like trash watchmen and forest guardians made out of bits of their respective environments.

Like films such as Pan's Labyrinth and The Fall, there's a parallel storyline running between the "real world" child and the fantastic plot, but Kooky is decidedly more light-hearted than those two (and less gory.  The part in Pan's where the guy gets his face bashed in with a bottle?  Yikes.).  The characters are outlandish and genuinely funny and contribute greatly to the film as a whole.

Svěrák does a wonderful job of creating a larger world within the scope of the story; the different trash creatures and hinting at a deeper mythology of the forest guardians go a long way toward this, as does the sheer number of characters.  The film is done with a mixture of puppetry, live action, and stop motion animation.  Beautiful scenes and sets, along with a vivid soundtrack, set the tone for the movie, and the endearing, if simple, story does a lot to keep the viewer captivated.

Kooky is available new in an English dub, and it can be easily gotten through iTunes, so there are no barriers to viewing and enjoying this film.  You can even check out the English-language trailer here.  If you're looking for an inventive, light-hearted, and sincere movie, you owe it to yourself to give Kooky a chance.


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