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Wednesday, March 1, 2017
I remember when computer-generated cartoons a la TOY STORY were a real novelty. But a million-and-a-half computer-generated cartoons a la TOY STORY later, and they're starting to get a little old.
Still, a CGI toon like Denmark's English-dubbed THE TROUBLE WITH TERKEL (Indican Pictures, 2010) is fun to look at in a Viewmaster sort of way, with its rubbery-looking 3D-ish characters and diorama-like backgrounds.
Movies like this are, if not strictly kid stuff, then usually fairly wholesome and family-oriented. But the dirty jokes and sexual innuendos of SAUSAGE PARTY changed that (I haven't seen it but the trailer's enough to convey the idea) and now this story of a nerdy sixth grader who runs afoul of a couple of school bullies really goes full-on "Family Guy and The Simpsons Meet Beavis and Butthead."
Here's an idea of the lowbrow humor: Terkel and his friend Jason, one of those zany "white kid who thinks he's black" types, get a substitute sex-ed teacher named Mr. Balsac, whose first name, of course, is "Dick." He's a pedophile, natch, and he's planning a class field trip to the seaside to see a baby seal clubbing.
Meanwhile, the two bullies, Nigel and Saki, focus their hostilities on Terkel until he proves himself worthy of their respect by driving the class fat girl to suicide. (Her swan dive from an upstairs window ends with a gory "splat.")
But even then, Terkel continues to receive death threats from an unknown stalker. Could it possibly be former best pal Jason, who's jealous of Terkel's new friends?
The story is narrated by Marcus, an unctuous Brit who resembles Austin Powers and turns up here and there as various characters, including the kids' hipster music teacher. Marcus gets the first musical number, a song about how cool he is.
The rest of the tunes that pop up every ten minutes or so run hot and cold. (Nobody bothered to record a translation of Terkel's rap song so it's in the original Danish.)
As for the humor, there's an awful lot of dirty jokes and profanity packed into the dialogue, which works overtime to be funny but is only occasionally successful at it.
I laughed at Terkel's severely accident-prone little sister Lucy most of all, along with his eternally arguing parents Sheila and Leon whose exchanges consist mostly of the words "yes" and "no" tossed back and forth ad nauseum. (Sheila sounds a lot like Wanda Sykes for some reason.) One of the more amusing subplots deals with the fact that Terkel's parents are finally about to get married.
It took me a while to even begin getting into this movie, since it seems eager to get a bunch of the dirty jokes and other crude humor out of its system first (much of it for pure shock value) before finally congealing into a story.
Fortunately, though, the mysterious stalker angle starts to get interesting as do some of the interpersonal relationships between the characters. There's even an eleventh-hour plot twist that's actually interesting and even a bit suspenseful.
The DVD from Indican Pictures is widescreen with Dolby sound and optional English subtitles. Extras include deleted scenes, mock screen tests, and a making-of featurette, all in Danish, along with a music video for one of the film's songs and a trailer.
THE TROUBLE WITH TERKEL is the kind of comedy that Mel Brooks might write if he somehow got transformed into a sixth grader again and collaborated with YouTube star Shane Dawson. If that sounds appealing to you, you'll probably enjoy it. If it sounds appalling to you, you probably won't.
Running Time: 88 minutes
Format: 1:78 Flat (35mm)
Sound: Dolby SR
Country: USA and Denmark
Cast & Crew
Directed by: Kresten Vestbjerg Andersen and Thorbjorn Christoffersen
Featuring: Shark Firestone, Mike Olsen, Marlise Garba-Wright, Richard Janes, Eve Mauro