Thursday, March 11, 2010

Help I'm a Fish (2000) (NYICFF Flashback)

Animated film from Denmark, it was dubbed into English by a British cast that includes Terry Jones and Alan Rickman. Its had a strange route to the United States in that it i hasn't been available except as an import. I picked this up a few years ago the only way I could get it was as an import DVD.

The story is a simple one. When Stella's parents go out for the evening she and her brother are left in the care of their Aunt and their cousin. When the kids go fishing they are forced by the rising tide to go into a cave where they end up at the home of a marine biologist named Professor Mac Krell. Stella accidental drinks a potion that turns her into a starfish and is tossed into the sea. In an effort to find her her brother, cousin and the Professor set out in a leaky boat, but a storm comes in and the two boys are forced to drink the fish making potion while the Professor is washed over board. Losing the antidote, its found by a fish named Joe and his shark friend who end up turning slightly human from exposure to its properties. Joe then sets out using the potion to make himself king, while the kids, helped by a sea horse named Sasha try to get it back and back to normal.

Small scale animated film is perfectly paced at a mere 75 minutes. The story is simple and while it wobbles a bit at the start once it gets going its a pretty good piece of fluff. Its the sort of thing that is completely mindless and completely entertaining.

Is this the greatest animated film? Oh, lord no. Its a small trifle. The sort of thing that you'll like while its on and the kind of wonder about afterward. The problem with the film is that there really isn't much to the plot and had one had a mind too one could probably chop a good ten or fifteen minutes out of it.

On the other hand this is a surprisingly good film. There are some really wonderful animated sequences (The octopus is amazing) that make this a surprisingly good looking film. Best of all the film is full of great lines (The exchange when Alan Rickman orders his second in command to eat himself as punishment is hysterical) and great moment (try not to tear up when Stella tells Sasha he can't go with he and she tries to make him go away) that prove that the filmmakers are trying to do more than just make a cookie cutter kids film.

This is a film that is worth watching if you can find a copy, especially if you have small kids. I really think the kids will eat this up. Which is why I'm kind of at a loss as to why this film has never gotten a US release (I can't see any sort of release except for the odd screening). Frankly if it wasn't for the NYICFF I never would have heard of this film. Its a film that is completely under the radar except for a select bunch of fans who are constantly trying to figure out why the film has yet to get any sort of US release. I have no idea why this is since its definitely better than many similar direct to video films that get a big play.

If you have kids, this is worth keeping your eyes out for.

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