Happy fall, everyone!
Ok, ok. I know it’s not technically fall yet. But with schools back in session, a few leaves starting to shift their summer green, and a cool edge starting to slip into the air, it certainly feels like fall where I am. And I don’t know about you, dear reader, but, from where I’m sitting, one of the most exciting things about autumn is seeing the summer blockbuster gradually give way to a few films with fewer explosions and more dialogue that the screenwriter considered at length before putting it to paper. (Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE fast paced, action packed, chase-scene fueled films as much as the next guy. It’s just nice to have a cinematic palate cleanser available.)
This fall is shaping up to be particularly exciting for animated film fans. After a relatively sparse offering of animated films this summer (really only How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Planes: Fire and Rescue), there are five animated films dues to make their debut this fall. Even better, all look like they are well worth the price of a theater ticket. Here are the animated films to look for in theaters this season:
Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart (Sept. 24 – limited release)
I realize I wrote about this film last time, but I am quite excited at the prospect of seeing this visual feast in a theater, so it bears repeating. A film from France’s EuropaCorp, Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart tells the story of a young man whose heart was replaced with a cuckoo clock at birth. Due to the fragility of his mechanical heart, he must avoid all strong emotions, a task which becomes nearly impossible when he meets — and falls in love with — Miss Acacia. Set in 19th century Edinburgh, Jack has a gorgeous, almost steampunk aesthetic that is really enticing. The film has been dubbed into English for the American theatrical release, a practice which works well for taking in the film’s beautiful design but which (rumor has it) makes the French-styled musical elements feel a little strange. If you are in one of the select cities that are screening Jack in the US, you will have to weigh in on how well this film works as a musical.
The Boxtrolls (Sept. 26)
I have been impatiently waiting for this movie to come out since this teaser was released online last year. Yet another amazing film from Laika Studios, the creators of Paranorman and Coraline, The Boxtrolls tells the story of a young man raised by box-wearing, scavenger trolls living under a 19th century city. When his adopted clan is threatened by a boxtroll exterminator, Eggs must team up with a young, surface-dwelling woman to save his family. I am completely in love with everything that Laika has done so far, and this movie looks like it will be equally wonderful. Beautiful aesthetics, an engaging story, and a generous dose of humor, this is the movie I am most excited about seeing this fall.
The book of life (OCT. 17)
Co-written and directed by El Tigre’s Jorge Gutierrez, Book of Life tells the story of a young man who must venture through three supernatural worlds in order to make his way back to the woman he loves. Using the Dia de los Muertos holiday, this movie seems to have a kind of Romeo and Juliet meets Corpse Bride feel. As with Jack above, I am curious about the plot but going to see it in theaters mainly for the impressive set design — what better way to appreciate it than on a fifty-foot screen with popcorn?
Big hero 6 (Nov. 7)
After The Boxtrolls, this is the other animated movie on my fall viewing list that is bolded, underlined, and has multiple exclamation points. Computer prodigy Hiro Hamada and his best friend/inflatable robot Beymax discover a sinister plot that threatens the high-tech city of San Fransokyo. Together with a group of novice crime fighters, Hiro and Beymax must come up with a way to save their city. A Disney/Marvel collaboration, Big Hero 6 seems to have hit upon everything that is best about both studios’ products — an engaging plot, appealing characters, action, adventure, humor, and the hint of a heartwarming denouement — and wrapped it up into one wild feature.
Song of the Sea (Dec. 19 – limited release)
The new film by Ireland’s Cartoon Salon (best known for the Oscar-nominated The Secret of Kells) is a stretch to fit into this list, since folks at the Toronto International Film Festival (not me) will have already seen it before fall and the December screening is only in New York thus far. Even so, I couldn’t resist including Song of the Sea on this list. Based on the Irish legend of the selkies (magical women who are part seal and part human), the story follows Ben and Saoirse, who are forced to move from their home on the Irish coast to live with their grandmother in the city. Together, Ben and Saoirse must make their way back home and reconnect with the ancient stories passed down from their mother to find where they truly belong. Animated in the same beautiful 2D style as The Secret of Kells, Song of the Sea looks like an enchanting Irish story . Hopefully it will become more widely available soon!