Wendell & Wild is a twisted tale that explores demons and trauma through gorgeous stop animation and spooky fun, but it isn’t without its issues.
Fans of Corpse Bride and The Nightmare Before Christmas rejoice! Henry Selick is back with another brilliantly stunning stop animation film — Wendell & Wild. This story is a great kick off to spooky season as it involves demons and raising the dead. Not only that, the hilarious comedic duo Key and Peele are back as the voices of the two demon brothers, Wendell and Wild.
After her parents’ untimely death, Kat (voiced by Lyric Ross) goes down a spiral. She blames herself and it shapes her new self, who is a punk who cares little for anything in the world. This movie follows her journey after she is released from prison and sent to an all girls Catholic school, where she discovers secrets that help her down the path of bringing her parents back, and all she has to do is make a deal with Wendell and Wild.
What Works With Wendell & Wild
You might think that the best thing about this movie is the reunion of Key and Peele, and while they certainly are the standouts of the film, there is even more to celebrate here. That being said, it is amazing to hear the two cracking jokes and playing off of each other throughout the movie. One can only assume there was a lot of improv going on here, as the two show off their real life chemistry.
Of course, one of the obvious positives of Wendell & Wild is the gorgeous stop animation. The details that are given throughout the entire movie are simply stunning. Each and every scene brings something special to the table. From the look of the skeletons that were risen from the dead, to the devilish faire that takes place in the afterlife down under (if you catch our drift).
This movie has the same feel as successful Selick films from the paste, such as Corpse Bride. But at the same time it has improved and doesn’t feel like a straight up copy — which is helped in large part by the captivating story.
The tale being told will hook viewers right from the start, as you can’t help but root for Kat, even if she has a massive teenage attitude. Wendell and Wild are a major part of the plot, but they aren’t all of it. Kat’s journey is dark, sad, and full of trauma. It is easy to connect with her because everyone has had something bad happen to them, even if it isn’t as devastating and horrific as Kat’s backstory.
Something truly beautiful though, is the representation in Wendell & Wild. There is a Black female lead, who absolutely crushes it all while being unapologetically herself. That isn’t the only place this movie offers inclusion, however. One of Kat’s classmates is a transsexuals.
This is an all girls school, but clearly they allowed him to say after he transitioned to Raul. This is made clear many times. He has a supportive and loving mother, who constantly reminds people that she has a son. When his friends slip and call him by the wrong name, they immediately apologize.
It is wonderful to see this type of representation on screen, especially in movies that are for fans of all ages. Kids need to be able to see themselves on screen — everyone does. Hopefully the day will come soon where there isn’t even a need to confirm the existence over and over, they can just be a part of the story without drawing attention to it.
What Doesn’t Work With Wendell & Wild
There is only one real major issue with Wendell & Wild, and that is the fact that it feels far longer than it is. Things start off at a decent speed, moving through the story at a good pace, but then in the middle it starts to drag. Perhaps this is because it is just stuffed with so many plot points, but it ends up feeling far longer than the one hour and forty-five minutes that it clocks in at by the time it ends.
This isn’t to say it loses itself in the middle, because it doesn’t. It seems like almost everything we are given is important to the story, it just isn’t executed in a way that keeps it chugging along at a palatable pace.
Wendell & Wild is gorgeous to watch, there is no denying that. With stunning visuals from beginning to end and a story that will keep viewers entertained, this is a can’t miss.
Packed with representation and inclusion, and a hilarious Key and Peele reunion, Wendell & Wild is once of the best spooky season movies in a while. It might not beat out fan favorites like The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride, but it will give them a run for their money.
The important lessons about trauma stand out, as audiences will learn to forgive themselves and not dwell on the past. This movie is creepy, and might be a bit too much for a younger audience (think kids under 8), however it never crosses the line into horrific. There are themes of death and destruction, though.
Wendell & Wild comes to Netflix on August 28th and you don’t want to miss it.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
NEXT: My Father’s Dragon Review
About Wendell & Wild
Director, Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline) and producer Jordan Peele (Nope, Us, Get Out) team up to bring us a phantasmic thrill ride in the new stop-animation feature, Wendell & Wild.
The titular characters, a pair of demon brothers played by comedy icons Key & Peele trick troubled teen, Kat Elliott (Lyric Ross), into bringing them from the underworld into the land of the living and mayhem ensues.
Wendell & Wild comes to Netflix on October 28th.
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Tessa Smith is a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved Film and TV Critic. She is also a Freelance Writer. Tessa has been in the Entertainment writing business for almost ten years and is a member of several Critics Associations including the Critics Choice Association, Hollywood Critics Association, and the Greater Western New York Film Critics Association.