JACK AND THE CUCKOO-CLOCK HEART (7 out of 10) – Directed by Mathias Malzieu and Stephane Berla; written by Mathias Malzieu; starring Orlando Seale, Samantha Barks, and Michelle Fairley; rated PG; running time: 89 minutes.
“Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart” is the whimsical journey of a young boy who is born with a frozen heart on the coldest day ever. The kindly woman who delivers him replaces the heart with a cuckoo-clock, but that’s not necessarily the weirdest thing to happen in this film.
Shout! Factory, in collaboration with EuropaCorp, producers of “Monster in Paris,” bring you this magical movie based on the French novel “La Mecanique du Coeur” (The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart”) by Mathias Malzieu. He is also the director of the film and lead singer of the French band Dionysos. The band composed the film’s music, but the songs are uneven in quality. The real standout is a duet between Jack and Miss Acacia (beautifully voiced by Samantha Barks, Eponine in the film version of “Les Miserables”), the young girl who claims his heart, erm, his clock, when he first ventures into town.
For most of his life, he has avoided the excitement of the outside world. With delicate clock parts comes great responsibility, and he most obey three rules: don’t touch the hands of the clock, he must keep his temper under control, and he must never ever fall in love. But as we learned from “Gremlins,” movie characters rarely follow the rules.
With a clear Tim Burton influence, a variety of colorful characters populates this tale with an interesting mix of animation styles. Even the schoolyard bully is reminiscent of Burton’s longtime collaborator Johnny Depp. And while the entire film falls more under the fantasy genre, some scenes are even more outlandish than others, particularly once Jack begins his search for Miss Acacia. It’s as if, with his heart focused so dangerously on the object of his desire, his logic and reason leave him and the landscape echoes his chaotic feelings.
Will he find her? Will she love him back? And at what cost? “Jack” asks the question “Is love worth it?” It’s a rather large theme for an animated film, but this one isn’t really aimed at the young kids. It is rated PG-13, after all.
Overall, this is a wonderful little film with stunning animation, but it is very quirky and strange with mostly unremarkable music. It will likely appeal mostly to animation fans, Tim Burton fans, and those who like darker children’s films.
“Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart” is now available in a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack.
A copy of this film was provided for review purposes.