Birdboy: The Forgotten Children Review - Beautifully Animated Misery-gasm - Dread Central
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Birdboy: The Forgotten Children Review – Beautifully Animated Misery-gasm

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birdboy featured 1 - Birdboy: The Forgotten Children Review - Beautifully Animated Misery-gasm

birdboy poster 200x300 - Birdboy: The Forgotten Children Review - Beautifully Animated Misery-gasmWritten and Directed by Alberto Vázquez and Pedro Rivero

Voiced by Sofia Bryant, Yuri Lowenthal, Lauren Weintraub, and Marc Diraison

Distributed by Shout! Factory


I’m not a huge fan of animated movies. This is probably because the only emotions I’m comfortable feeling are contempt and self-satisfaction, and the saccharine positivity of films like Wall-E or The Secret Life of Pets makes me feel a strange tingling sensation in the place where my heart should be. I’m apparently alone in this, judging by how every animated film receives the kind of Rotten Tomatoes critical consensus usually reserved for Syrian elections. So suffice it to say, neither Birdboy: The Forgotten Chlidren’s style nor its 97% score tickled my curiosity gonads. I offered to review it because no one else in the meeting raised their hand, and I only hit the play button once my evening wanking marathon started to hurt.

The SparkNotes version of Birdboy reads like a laundry list of things Ted doesn’t like. It’s got talking animals, children protagonists, a metaphorical plot, backstory explained in several monologues, positive messages about friendship, and an annoying cartoon clock that goes, “beep beep.” Take all of these elements, hand them to DreamWorks, and collect your $80 million opening weekend. Sometime later, Ted will be forced to watch it under the misguided assumption that it will lead to sex.

It took about 30 seconds for Birdboy to remind me that frequently, I am wrong. I am wrong about animated films being derivative, wrong about child characters being uninteresting, wrong about metaphorical plots being an excuse for the director to masturbate all over the screen, and wrong about my inability to feel. Birdboy takes every single element I usually hate and reimagines them with creative vigor and clarity of vision.

As such, there’s very little I can say about the movie that will make sense without viewing it yourself. The plot is relatively basic, but it’s just the launching point for a more complex narrative. The titular Birdboy (who is a bird boy) inhabits an island full of anthropomorphic talking animals. Once a pirstine fishing village, the whole island was polluted when a factory exploded. The fish are gone, waters murky, and much of the land covered in trash. Meanwhile, a group of three kids are all working together to collect enough money to get off the island. There is also a drug dealing pig, a sentient clock that runs around, a mouse father/son combo collecting scrap, and some police dogs hunting Birdboy.

Each character brings something unique to the table, exploring their own little world of suffering. Zachariah the pig/drug dealer is dealing with his addict mother, whose habit takes the form of a giant evil spider. The female lead Dinky lives with her fundamentalist parents, who praise Jesus while condemning the world for being so dirty and corrupt. Sandra the rabbit is mentally ill, and the mouse scavengers have to literally kill each other to protect their meager finds. At times it can feel like each character is just another dart on the board of social issues the director wanted to hit, but the way that fantasy blends with reality makes each vignette compelling.

I’ll keep this review short, as any of the specific praise won’t make sense without seeing the movie. There’s a lot of great visual storytelling here, so go into Birdboy: The Forgotten Children with an open mind and an eager eye for detail. The only criticism I would have for the movie is that the story is sometimes told too bluntly, rushing to establish key elements and framework without a lot of subtlety. It’s really a moot point, since how it expands and embellishes that foundation is really where the movie shines. A must see for both horror fans and normies alike.

  • Film
4.5

Summary

Touching, dark, and disturbing. A coming of age story for the hopeless who still dream.

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