Alé Abreu's lively animation (think colored drawing pencils on heavy-weight paper) gives unusual texture to this wide-eyed adventure. Drawn in a style that mixes childish wonder & the simplicity of stick figures with patterns multiplying to infinity, it pulls you inside its tale tall of a spunky rural lad who leaves home to look for the father forced to hunt for work far off in the big city. Along the way, the boy finds brief friendships, a tagalong mutt, and a rapidly evolving industrial society turning mean & impersonal as the city nears. The tone, more thoughtful than funny, with mumbled faux-dialogue, isn’t far from Jacques Tati’s PLAYTIME/’67, with a neat homage to a Harold Lloyd ‘thrill’ sequence and a less successful spate of live-action footage to pound home the politics just when we need a bit of rude comic invention. And a little storytelling clarification would be nice when the last sequences seem to collapse what we’ve been watching into one boy/man/grandfather character before bringing us back to the film’s beginning. Best not to struggle with the story arc and simply enjoy the episodes as they come, the densely worked out spare images and the superb use of Brazilian music & rhythms.
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: While not a ‘kids’ film, it’s also not not for kids. Just have those colored art pencils & quality drawing paper ready in case someone gets inspired.