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Saturday, January 12, 2019

ODDSOCKEATERS -- DVD Review by Porfle

I'm not that big a fan of the current spate of digital cartoons (I still have a passion for cel animation and stop-motion) but the Czech film ODDSOCKEATERS, aka "Lichozrouti" (2016, Omibus Entertainment/Film Movement) is something I'd have to describe as unique and appealing, maybe even irresistible.

The visuals capture the feel of storybook illustrations come to vivid life, with just the right balance of painterly artistry and an almost model-like realism.  The characters have the look of living plush toys that are vibrant with personality.

Hugo is a young oddsockeater, a creature invisible to most humans except for "oddies" (people who live alone on the fringes of society).  As the name implies, he subsists upon stolen socks, but his family tradition is to take only one from a pair and leave the other, thus "sharing" the socks rather than stealing them outright.

When his grandfather dies (or fades away as oddsockeaters do) Hugo must seek out his uncle, Big Boss, who runs a gang of sock "sharers" (including Hugo's mischievous identical twin cousins Rameses and Tulamor) and hoards mountains of socks in his lair in the attic of an eccentric old professor who knows of the existence of oddsockeaters and is forever trying to capture one and win the Nobel Prize.

But even as Hugo is trying to fit in with Big Boss and his crew, he falls afoul of his uncle's arch enemy, Spike, whose much-less-scrupulous gang of sock pirates delight in stealing whole pairs--right off of people's feet when possible.

Trying to rescue his cousin after he's kidnapped by Spike and held for a king's ransom in socks, Hugo must become a member of Spike's gang, putting him at odds with Big Boss. Eventually he'll find himself targeted by both factions, in addition to being doggedly pursued by the Professor himself.

At first, I found the story a bit hard to get into, but the more I became familiar with storybook author Pavel Srut's characters and eased into the movie's own wonderfully unique world, it all became more and more captivating.  The characters are mostly abrasive and bombastic (save for the sweet-natured Hugo) but likable, with the noteworthy exception of the thoroughly villainous Spike who is genuinely menacing.

Direction by Galina Miklínová, who wrote the book adaptation, is dazzingly kinetic and imaginative throughout, keeping the story moving at a breakneck pace and packed with colorful action.

Spike's hideout aboard a small tugboat on the river that runs through town is an ideal setting for much of the cliffhanger-style activity which includes car and truck chases and some harrowing scrapes involving water, which can mean soggy death for an oddsockeater.

Songs are mercifully few (and those few are nicely tuneful) and the story is brimming with rich dialogue and character interactions.  All in all, ODDSOCKEATERS is one of those pleasant surprises that I began watching a bit grudgingly and ended up being totally charmed and entertained by. 

Type: DVD/Digital
Running time: 87 min.
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Audio: 5.1 Surround Sound/2.0 Stereo
Language: English
Subtitles: None
Extras: None


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