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Sunday, November 20, 2016

AVRIL ET LE MONDE TRUQUÉ / APRIL AND THE EXTRAORDINARY WORLD (2015)

If Hollywood’s working model on animated features tends toward homogenized over-development (think DreamWorks with their be-true-to-yourself dicta, larded with winks at Pop Culture for the parental units), here’s a French product that might have benefitted with more corporate think. So wildly unorganized, self-indulgent & individual, it skips logical progression & human emotion, loading on fistfuls of half-baked ideas. An alternate reality fable of a civilization stuck with 19th Century technology, its scientists (and their advances) have all disappeared, grabbed in the maw of lizard conspiracists. (Lizard Conspiracists!!) Now, they're trying to track down a rumored immortality serum that three generations of one family may have, along with their aging, unlikable cat. Toss in a big-nosed spy to fall for our young heroine chemist and you have the semblance of a plot.* Or would if less time were spent on chases past old or re-imagined Paris landmarks. (Two Eiffel Towers?) The animation technique is unable to add much shading to largely incompatible characters, so there’s little to do but admire the handsome draftsmanship on some background layouts and wonder how an animated cat can be so unappealing. Two stellar casts signed on for vocal duties; French-Language cast on the poster, English-Language dub includes Paul Giamatti, Susan Sarandon, Tony Hale & J. K. Simmons, all sounding unconvinced. On the other hand, in his feature debut, composer Valentin Hadjadj sounds entirely convinced in a promising score with a touch of Berlioz to it.

ATTENTION MUST BE PAID: The bulk of the story takes place in alternate-realty Paris 1941; one way of dealing with the real reality of a Vichy government.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: *Taken from Jacques Tardi’s graphic novel; followers may be more enthusiastic . . . or perhaps not.

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