Sallow faces and shadowed eyes on oversized heads, tragedy and pain made bloatedly manifest on little clay bodies: This Best Animated Feature Oscar nominee is not an easy film, but it is an instantly captivating one. Sweet nine-year-old Zucchini goes to live in an orphanage after the sudden death of his mother: it’s a nice place, but it is full of children weighted down by grief, which has turned them bullying or neurotic or withdrawn or just plain sad. Still, Zucchini is building a new life for himself, making new friends and finding a mentor in a kindly police officer (the voice of Nick Offerman). This is a lovely film, using haunting animation to tell a tale of the unexpected turns life can take and the deeper understanding of our fellow humans that misfortune can grant us. The death of Zucchini’s mother may have little ones upset, and the ideas the film confronts revolve around harsh realities of real children's lives, but nothing graphic is depicted, and it all occurs on a level that grade-schoolers should have no trouble appreciating.
Director: Claude Barras
Producer: Marc Bonny, Armelle Glorennec, Pauline Gygax and Max Karli
Cast: Will Forte, Nick Offerman, Ellen Page, Amy Sedaris and Clara Young