Screenwriter Scott Christian Sava and an all-star cast deliver a delightful, fun animated flick for the whole family!
Need a break from the doom and gloom that is the real world at the moment? If so, there is an amazing animated movie currently streaming on Netflix, for kids and adults alike. The writing is top-notch, the characters are believable and their relationships with each other is extremely authentic. This movie is Animal Crackers.
Animal Crackers | Netflix
To start, the story is about a nephew and his wife using a box of magic animal crackers to transform into the depicted animals in an attempt to save the failing family circus from their evil Uncle Horatio P. Huntington. While the story might seem hooky on the surface, once you get past that, it’s so much more. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions that leaves you wanting more, even if you think you know what’s coming next.
Moving on, the relationship between the husband Owen (played by John Krasinski), his wife Zoe (played by Emily Blunt), and daughter Mackenzie (played by Lydia Rose Taylor) are beyond cute and believable. I honestly don’t think live action could have done a better job of portraying the relationship between the three. The emotions between the three, no matter if they’re doing something mundane or heroic, can’t help but leap out of the screen to the point where it can really be felt.
As a kid, Owen loved the circus. In a quote from the movie, “He practically grew up right there in the front row”. It was here where he would meet his future wife Zoe. After being given a red rubber nose by Chesterfield the clown for his new lady friend, it doesn’t take Owen long to get past the shy, awkward part of their new relationship and actually talk to her. As the years went by and they both grew old enough, Owen proposed to Zoe with a red rubber nose and they had a kid of their own, Mackenzie. Considering how many movies and shows often use the trope of having both the guy and girl be too nervous to talk to each other for an extended period, this was a refreshing change of pace.
Many times throughout the movie both Owen and Zoe are depicted as a real husband and wife couple, having disagreements and doing whatever they can to work through everything life throws at them, while also working together to raise their daughter Zoe. The acting on the part of all three is what really sells their relationship. With Zoe acting as the planner and go-getter, doing what she feels she has to save the failing family circus, Owen is more the quiet and submissive type, wanting only to do what he can to best please and help everyone around him. That being said, when push comes to shove and Owen discovers the magic of the animal crackers delivered to him by a seemingly random and unimportant blue-furred stray dog and it’s black and white cat companion, he is ready to literally transform into whatever is necessary to save his family and the circus it’s built on. Throughout the movie, keep an eye or two out on the cat and dog as they just might be important later.
With a side story about Zoe’s father not approving of who she chose to marry, vengeful Uncle Horatio attempting to take over the circus purely for the sake of power and wealth, along with a scientist employee named Blinkley attempting to make a dog treat that tastes exactly like human food (sushi, spaghetti and meatballs, chocolate chip cookies, and so much more), and fellow dog biscuit employee named Brock who attempts to sabotage Brinkley every chance he gets, the movie sounds like it should be a jumbled mess. In truth, it’s not. It’s truly easy to follow and enjoy for any age.
When asked about how he came up with the idea for the movie, graphic novel and screenwriter Scott Christian Sava (@ssava on Twitter), said, “Honestly, I was eating Barnum’s Animal Crackers in the backyard with my twin boys (8 at the time) and thought ‘What if, when you eat a lion cookie…POOF…you became a lion?’ The boys loved it. So I turned it into a graphic novel”. From there Sava also said that it wasn’t until years later that Kevin Grevioux (@KevinGrevioux on Twitter) convinced him to turn it into a screenplay and only years after that was Sava convinced to turn it into a movie.
While the story was simple and fun enough on its own, Sava knew it needed more. To that end, he came up with the characters of Horatio and Bob, along with Mr. Woodley and Brock. Of the first two, Sava said, “Ah, Horatio and Bob are opposites. So where Bob is humble, kind, and giving, Horatio is egotistical and selfish. Horatio NEVER wanted the circus for himself. He LIKED having Bob around. He couldn’t live with Talia falling in love with Bob.” In other words, once the two died in a fire Horatio himself caused, he didn’t know what to do. The circus life was the only one he had ever known. Without the knowledge of what the animal crackers did, the circus fell into financial ruin around him, leaving Horatio no other option than to break away from the one he’s known all his life and begin another with a few of his circus goons.
As Horatio was struggling with that, Owen was struggling to please and impress his father-in-law Mr. Woodley, who Sava described as an, “…every dad. What father would want their daughter to marry into a circus? He was easy to write”. In others, while there isn’t as much of a character backstory there, Mr. Woodley was still one of those chapters you couldn’t help but love to hate. The reasoning for his disapproval of Owen is just so understandable.
Moving on Brock, he is even more fun to hate as he is the over the top cartoon character. He is animated not only in that being the medium Sava chose to tell his story but also in the way he moves. In any other movie, he would likely be the hero character everyone roots for. At the least, Sava described Brock as wanting Woodley’s job, which is, “why Woodley keeps him at his desk. No one knows exactly what Brock does, but because he’s ‘the kind of guy you want your daughter to marry’, he gets to stick around”. In other words, he’s the character you hate on principle, but can’t help but love to watch. He’s animated comic gold.
Even with as much fun as the movie is, it almost didn’t get to see the light of day due to behind the scenes studio distribution problems. Originally it was set to be released back in 2017 before two different media studios shut down. Following that, Entertainment Studios Motion Picture got the rights to distribute it, saying that the public would finally be able to watch it on August 20, 2019. Over time, that of course fell through with Netflix ultimately getting the rights to stream it on their service which began on July 24th.
Despite the years it took to get this movie produced and distributed, it is one that deserves the highest recommendation and more than one viewing. As previously stated, the story, acting, characters, and their relationships with each other are beyond amazing. Simply put, it’s a must-watch for anyone animation fans of any age, both with and without kids.
Animal Crackers is currently streaming on Netflix.
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Megan Rickards is a prolific Staff Writer for The Future of the Force. Aside from being extremely passionate about Star Wars, Batman: The Animated Series, and the Arrowverse, Megan holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Literature and Writing. Follow her on Twitter @FindingHerSpot where she channels the Force frequently!
Editors Note: The team here at thefutureoftheforce.com would like to extend our personal thanks to Scott Christian Sava for his input during the writing process of this review. His insights provided a greater understanding of the characters depicted on screen and we all feel that little bit closer to all as a result.