Thirteen years after directing the delightful Coraline, Henry Selick returns with a new in Wendell & Wild from Netflix. Selick pens the script with Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, and Clay McLeod Chapman. Told through the handmade artistry of stop motion, Wendell & Wild introduces us to scheming demon brothers Wendell (Keegan-Michael Key) and Wild (Peele), who enlist the aid of 13-year-old Kat Elliott (Lyrics Ross), a tough teen with a load of guilt, to summon them to the Land of the Living. But what Kat demands in return leads to a brilliantly bizarre and comedic adventure like no other, an animated fantasy that defies the law of life and death.
The glorious animation is one of the first things viewers will notice about Wendell & Wild. In Sellick's visual world, colors are vibrant, the production design is extraordinary, and the character design is outstanding. Each character in this film is exaggerated and stylized in different ways. The entertainment value of seeing nuns, demons, zombies, business people, demon bears, and teenagers in various shapes and sizes is a great way to highlight diversity. Considering the director's effort in making the film, it is a fantastic piece of creativity.
The four writers responsible for writing the script are eager to explore various topics in the film. The plot touches on childhood trauma, gender identity, and ecclesiastical corruption. Despite this, it quickly shifts back to humor to maintain the attention of young viewers. Deflecting the spotlight from the plots that are not directly relevant to the main story causes the script to constantly lose focus of its protagonists to focus on actions that are not of great relevance to the main story.
Our heroine, Kat's arc, occurs off-screen and is later conveyed to the audience through voice-over and repetitive flashbacks. We don't delve into anything else, even though we know the cause of her problems. Similarly, the two protagonists' demons have no arc or development: they are fun to watch, but we never get to know them.
Nevertheless, the voice cast is impressive, which makes the film worthy of family entertainment.
Final Grade: C+
Wendell & Wild is streaming on Netflix this Friday, October 28th