Directed by: Henry Selick
Distributed by: Netflix
Written by Alexander Reams
It’s been 13 years since stop-motion master Henry Selick unleashed a new world to audiences, his last being his magnum opus; “Coraline.” After years of trying to get a new film financed (one of the largest hurdles for stop-motion), Jordan Peele stepped in and helped make Selick’s latest nightmare a reality. Based on Clay McLeod Chapman and Selick’s unpublished book of the same name, following troubled teenager Kat (Lyric Ross) as she discovers she has demons, not the metaphorical kind, the real kind. The demon duo is known as Wendell (Keegan Michael-Key) & Wild (Producer and Co-Writer Jordan Peele). Selick has long been the demented version of Pixar, his films are aimed at children, but adults can find even more love for his projects. They tackle difficult subject matters, “Coraline” conquering the fears of moving to a new home, “James and the Giant Peach” ruminating on escaping abusive relatives, and now “Wendell & Wild” studying the effects of parental death and the consequence of messing with the past.
Kat lost her parents in a car accident when she was eight, an event that led to mounds of legal trouble and caused her to be sent to boarding school, where she’s ambushed by 3 girls, who seem a lot like the Chanel’s from Ryan Murphy’s short-lived “Scream Queens.” The girls are Siobhan (Tamara Smart), Sloane (Seema Virdi), and Sweetie (Ramona Young), and they are the typical welcoming party to a new school. Kat also meets Raul (Sam Zelaya) and the two quickly become friends. The world that the demon pair Wendell and Wild come from is reminiscent of Hell from “Futurama”, complete with an amusement park on the chest of Buffalo Belzer (Ving Rhames), its dingy, stinky, and plain disgusting. A testament to Selick’s ability as a former production designer, every set feels lived in and that it could exist in the real world. It turns out that Kat is a Hell Maiden, tied to Wendell and Wild. The true villains are the Klaxons, who wish to build a prison and use it to take advantage of at-risk youth. Selick’s social commentary is not like a lot of productions these days, handled with class and decorum instead of the subtlety of a Revival tent preacher.
Selick’s 13-year absence has been sorely felt, but with the power of Key & Peele, and Selick’s mastery of stop motion, “Wendell & Wild” is a testament to the power of stop motion and an example of why Henry Selick should be able to make whatever movies he wants.
“Wendell & Wild” Trailer