One of The Top Five Animated Features Of The Decade.
This wonderful animated film, by Luc Besson’s film company tells the tale of a young boy born on the coldest day in the history of the world. Little Jack is born with his heart frozen solid. His midwife saves his life by inserting a cuckoo-clock in place of his icy heart. And now Jack will live…as long as he observes three golden rules: 1) He must never touch the hands of the clock. 2) He must master his anger. 3) He must never, ever fall in love. But fall in love he does and hence begins a journey of escape and pursuit. Based on the novel by Mathias Malzieu, this is a fantastical, wildly inventive tale of love and heartbreak. The fabulous animation is stylish and timely. The music by Dionysos is incredible. Willie J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, comments, “As to the finest aspect of the movie – the score and songs, I would love this to be turned into a Broadway musical.” See his full review below.
I didn’t think I could love French cinema any more than I do. I’ve watched some of the best of live-action French cinema, but I’ve never seen an animated French feature (produced by Luc Besson produced, no less). Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart kindled an interest in me to watch more French cinema.
The beautiful thing about this movie, other than the way it looks, is its style. It is based on a rock concept album by the rock band Dionysus, so it is a musical – a feature animated musical. Simply put, Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart is the best animated feature since Toy Story 3 (not counting The Wind Rises for the sake of our mostly American readers) and it is the best musical since Sweeney Todd and Hairspray.
The movie has a very unique animated look. It is not quite as clay animated as Mary and Max but not as “normal looking,” per se, as Finding Nemo. It comes off as a cross between the two. I’ll admit, I am no expert in the creation of animated films but I do know what works in a film. Another aspect of the film’s look, its art direction, is quite beautiful. It is dark, mysterious and effective in its tone. Speaking of which – the tone is quite dark with an underlying feeling of loss and rejection.
Even the score, in its happiest moments, have a heavy feeling under the surface. Although love does find its way into the story and the objectives of the characters, loss and judgment resurface. The themes are quite adult and not appropriate for young children.
As to the finest aspect of the movie – the score and songs, I would love this to be turned into a Broadway musical. The style of the musical and the editing combined is reminiscent of Moulin Rouge, filled with vivacity and rapid pacing. The songs each carry their own beat and enhance the personalities of each character and its intentions. There is a mixture of ballads, rap, rock and even Latin. I would buy the soundtrack to this movie.
The story itself is about a boy born with a heart so weak that falling in love would be too much for him. The movie follows his early life where he inevitably falls in love (screenwriting 101) and the strength of his heart is put to the test.
I have learned over the years that just because a film is animated, it’s not necessarily designed for children. Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart isn’t exactly The Grave of the Fireflies but it is not for young children either. I recommend this film for ages 13 to 18. And my rating is 5 out of 5 stars. It is a wonderful film. It is one of the top five animated features of this decade.
Reviewed by Willie Jones, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15.