Directed by: Jan Sverák
Starring: Zdenek Sverák, Ondrej Sverák, Jirí Machácek
I’ve been wanting to see this movie for a while. Czech stop motion fantasy? Are you kidding me? That’s pretty much the only phrase that’ll get my attention no matter what I’m doing. I don’t know if you know a lot about the history of Czech stop motion, but they basically invented the medium, and they have this weird/cool obsession with using dead animal bodies and twigs and stuff like that. Check it out (turns out this is more puppets than stop motion, but it’s still awesome).
The mother of an asthmatic child throws out his favorite stuffed animal, a happy little bear named Kooky. The kid makes up a story to himself about Kooky’s miraculous escape from the dump and his adventure as he tries to make his way home. He meets a bunch of forest gods and gets the help of the Keeper of the Forest, Captain Dammit, to take him home. They both have to fend off another little monster who wants to take over as the new Keeper and his two garbage dump associates.
It’s a cute adventure story that reminds me of a darker, Soviet Toy Story. What’s really remarkable about it is the puppeteering, which is fantastic. It’s a perfect blend of practical effects and CGI, to the point where it looks almost real. Real and crazy, because the forest gods they meet are all made out of sticks and junk and other cool shit that is weird to make puppets out of. It’s still a happy kids movie, you just may need to overcome a bit of a cultural gap when it comes to deciding which of the freaky monsters are friendly and which are mean.