Saturday, October 20, 2007

London Film Fest Day 4 - MAX & CO - the kids flick that transcended the language barrier

MAX AND CO brought new faith in the power of the moving image. This French animated feature was played to an audience of small kids in French with subtitles and yet at the end of the flick all these illiterate rug-rats were enraptured! Tiny squeaks of "Dad, I loved that!" Amazing. The movie is about a teenage fox called Max who goes to St Hillaire to find his dad and stumbles upon a nasty business called Bzzz and Co. The company is simulataneously breeding mutant flies and letting them into the atmosphere AND getting rich by selling the townsfolk fly swatters. Naturally, Max saves the day. This being a French flick the moral of the story seems to be that all businessmen are corrupt parasitical exploiters; the workers are honest salt-of-the-earth types; and that direct action is best. But the Frenchness of the story also has its upsides, as manifested in the extremely un-PC, un-Disney attitude to sex. Max makes no bones about the fact that his dad, Johnny BeeGood, seduced his mum before abandoning her. The brilliantly drawn chair-frog of Bzzz and Co, Rodolfo, has a harem of chicks and leches onto Max's brief love interest, a sexy cat who dresses in a corset, short skirt and fishnet tights. The laughs come in quick succession both for kids and adults. The design and animation are all fasinating to watch. The characters are animals and rendered in a style which is sort of a cross between Postman Pat and those Comfort ads. And it's lovely to see the human hand in an animated flick rather than CGI. Banal but true: it makes the characters seem more real and warm. So, two definite thumbs up for the most deliciously adult and unusually drawn kids film I've seen in years.

MAX & CO played Toronto and London 2007 and is released in Belgium and France in February 2008.

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