Marcus Grant | Managing Editor
In perfect timing with Halloween, one of my friends and I decided to sit down and watch Wendell and Wild. It was recently released on October 21st in the U.S. We were intrigued mainly because it was the first film directed by Henry Selick since Coraline back in 2009. Jordan Peele helped to produce it and appeared as the character, Wild. I’m happy to say that the movie did not disappoint.
Wendell and Wild follows Kat, a thirteen-year-old girl who is returning to her hometown, Rust Bank for the first time since her parents death five years prior. It is clear early on that she suffers from trauma related to the event. Rust Bank has grown barren since the death of her parents and Klax Korp is campaigning to build a prison in the town. While this is happening, Kay’s personal demons, Wendell and Wild, have been yearning to build a Dream Faire, much to the dismay of their father, Buffalo Belzer, who they are constantly punished by. To do so, they contact Kat and ask her to bring them to the world of the living.
The film uses incredible camera work throughout it, capturing unique and interesting frames and allowing the animation to speak for itself. While watching, I couldn’t help but think “this is beautiful.” The most impressive, to me, were the shot of Kat sliding through the hall of her school and the shot of Irmgard Klaxon’s golf club moving through the water. Both shots were smooth to the point where you almost forgot the movie was made using stop motion. There are also a few moments where the characters are standing on a hill and you can see Rust Bank in the background — a truly breathtaking moment. At the end of the film, as the credits were rolling, images and videos of the production play. It was very cool to see the size of some of the models and how they were maneuvered. There was also a clip that showed different workers slipping in the hall to show how they were able to mimic the movement with Kat.
The characters in the movie were also something to note. Each of them had a very unique character design — even down to minor characters like bread workers and the counsel members casting votes. The diversity was also exciting to see. Majority of the characters were BIPOC and Raúl, someone who I would consider to be a main character, is a transgender man. This kind of diversity is not often seen in stop motion films, especially when we don’t often see that from big names in the industry. Representation is so important especially in films that are marketed towards a younger audience.
The general plot of the movie is relatively simple but I didn’t find myself upset about it. Themes revolving around self forgiveness and acceptance of one’s past as well as a display of the school to prison pipeline come through in the film very clearly. I believe it will allow children to think about the world around them and ask questions about how the system may benefit or harm themselves or others. There is also the important message of standing up for what you believe to be right and adjusting your values as you learn and meet new people in the piece.
Overall, Wendell and Wild was a very enjoyable film to watch. I would highly recommend giving it a watch if you’re a fan of stop motion (like me) or enjoy quirky and cute horror films.