Wendell & Wild

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Wendell & Wild
Wendell & Wild poster.jpg
Promotional release poster
Directed byHenry Selick
Screenplay by
Based on
Wendell & Wild (unpublished)
by
  • Henry Selick
  • Clay McLeod Chapman
Produced by
Starring
CinematographyPeter Sorg
Edited by
  • Mandy Hutchings
  • Jason Hooper
Music byBruno Coulais
Production
companies
Distributed byNetflix
Release dates
  • September 11, 2022 (2022-09-11) (TIFF)
  • October 21, 2022 (2022-10-21) (United States)
  • October 28, 2022 (2022-10-28) (Netflix)
Running time
105 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish

Wendell & Wild is a 2022 American stop motion animated horror comedy film directed by Henry Selick from a screenplay written by Selick and Jordan Peele (who are also producers), based on Selick's and Clay McLeod Chapman's unpublished book of the same name.[3][4] It stars Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele as the titular characters with Angela Bassett, Lyric Ross, James Hong, and Ving Rhames in supporting roles. This was Selick's first feature film since Coraline (2009).

It premiered at the 47th Toronto International Film Festival on September 11, 2022, was released in select cinemas on October 21, 2022, and made its streaming release in Netflix[5][6] on October 28, 2022. It received generally positive reviews from critics who welcomed Selick's return and praised its stop-motion animation and characters, but criticized its screenplay. The film is dedicated to Mark Musumeci, an electricity consultant who worked on almost all of Selick's previous stop-motion features since The Nightmare Before Christmas, who died during production.

Plot[edit]

Young Kat Elliot lives with her parents Delroy and Wilma, who own a root beer brewery in the town of Rust Bank. Driving home on a stormy night, Kat is frightened by a two-headed worm in her candy apple, leading her father to veer off a bridge; only Kat survives. Five years later, Kat is an embittered, punk rock-loving juvenile delinquent who blames herself for her parents' deaths. Meanwhile, demon brothers Wendell and Wild spend their days in the underworld putting rejuvenating hair cream on their balding father, Buffalo Belzer, while dreaming of making an amusement fair for departed souls.

Kat is enrolled in Rust Bank's all-girls Catholic school, headed by Father Best. A trio of preppy classmates led by Siobhan Klaxon, whose parents' private prison company Klaxon Korp has taken over the town, attempt to befriend Kat. Kat unintentionally endears herself to Siobhan by saving her from a falling brick, which she anticipated through premonition, surprising herself. Later, she meets Raúl, a trans boy who was once friends with Siobhan. Raúl's mother, Marianna, is convinced the Klaxons are responsible for the fire that burned down Kat's parents' factory and killed their workers. During a class taught by Sister Helley, Kat receives a marking on her hand resembling a skull, which Helley tells her she must hide. The mark alerts Wendell and Wild, identifying Kat as their "hell maiden", and they appear to her in a dream, promising to revive her parents if she summons them to the world of the living.

Kat steals the stuffed bear from Helley needed to summon Wendell and Wild. Helley, once a hell maiden herself, works with the school's janitor, Manberg, who hunts demons and keeps them in jars. Father Best is revealed to be in league with the Klaxons, who kill him as the last witness to their factory fire. Kat recruits Raúl as her witness to summon the demon brothers, who have discovered that their father's hair cream brings dead organisms back to life. However, the brothers appear in another part of the cemetery, and Kat believes she has been stood up.

Wendell and Wild test the cream on Best, who comes back to life and convinces the Klaxons to pay the brothers to revive the deceased members of the town council. This will give the Klaxons the votes they need to demolish the town and expand their prisons, but the Klaxons make the brothers agree not to revive anyone else. Best returns to school, and Kat confronts the brothers, who make her vow to serve them forever in exchange for her parents' resurrection. Forced to dig up the council members, whom Wendell and Wild revive, Raúl steals the cream and revives Delroy and Wilma himself. Reunited with her parents, Kat helps Raúl escape the brothers.

After the zombie council approves the Klaxons' plans, Siobhan discovers her parents' lies about the conditions of their prisons. Helley and Manberg make Kat undergo a ritual severing her tie with Wendell and Wild, resulting in her accepting the fact that her parents' death was not her fault. The ritual further gives her the control of her precognitive powers, which Helley reveals are a consequence of her status as a hell maiden. Best, Wendell, and Wild kidnap Delroy and Wilma and take them to the cemetery, where Siobhan reveals that her parents' payment is useless company money. Buffalo Belzer appears, having discovered Wendell and Wild's deception, but a mural painted by Raúl convinces him to make up with his sons. Manberg releases his collection of jarred demons after learning they are Belzer's children, and Belzer apologizes to Wendell and Wild, approving their plans for a new fair. Best dies again, and Belzer explains that the cream's effects are temporary.

The group deposes the bulldozers set to demolish the town, and Raúl uses the last of the cream to revive three dead factory workers to testify to the Klaxons' crimes, resulting in their arrest. Before Delroy and Wilma die, Kat uses her precognition to give them a glimpse of the future where Rust Bank is revived, and Wendell and Wild offer them VIP passes to their afterlife fair. Kat makes peace with her life.

In a post-credits scene, one of the production members finds the model of Kat, and is amused by it.

Voice cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

Official film logo

On November 3, 2015, it was reported that Henry Selick was developing Wendell & Wild, a new stop-motion feature with Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, based on an original story by Selick.[7] On March 14, 2018, the film was picked up by Netflix.[8] In a July 2019 interview, Key described the voice acting process, where "Jordan and I came in and did a session against static at recording booths, sitting looking across at Jordan and it's lots of ideas flowing, cutting each other off to keep that organic feeling. That usually ends up on the cutting room floor as you find the voices and you want a little refinement–some rhythm. We spent a good deal of time with an initial scene that Henry wrote discovering the characters and the framework of the scene. And then he uses that as inspiration to keep writing".[9] Pablo Lobato served as lead designer on the stop-motion puppets.[10] On June 4, 2020, Bruno Coulais was confirmed as the composer.[11][12] On March 14, 2022, the cast was revealed by Netflix on YouTube.[13]

Animation[edit]

As of June 15, 2020, production was being done remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lead writer and voice actor Peele stated that he "had an absolute blast working with Henry Selick and the crew for Wendell & Wild. I cannot wait for you to discover this film".[14] In an October 8, 2020 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the film's producer, Gotham Group CEO Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, elaborated on the project: "We're mid-production in Portland, Oregon, where the crew has suffered through fires, most recently, COVID and a lot of political and social unrest. It's been a very challenging movie."[15] Editing was done by Robert Anich, and Peter Sorg was cinematographer.[16][17][better source needed] By February 2021, production was ongoing in Portland.[18]

After Coraline, Selick felt stop-motion animation had become so smooth it had become indistinguishable from computer animation, defeating some of the purpose of stop-motion. He decided to allow flaws, such as keeping the seam lines on replacement faces visible, and shooting fewer frames per second in some scenes. Except for a stop-motion software called Dragonframe, he used more or less the same types of tools and techniques he used in Coraline more than a decade earlier.[19]

Part of the film was done as cutout animation to make the puppets look more two-dimensional. They were made of tin coated with silicone. Inspired by the shadow-puppet animation in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1, and an idea originally intended for Selick's yet-to-be-made stop-motion film The Shadow King, some of Wendell & Wild was done as silhouette animation, utilizing a combination of physical cutouts and CGI, with CGI used when cutouts were too limiting.[20]

Music[edit]

The film's score is composed by Bruno Coulais.[21] Its soundtrack has been noted for its emphasis on Afro-punk bands,[22][23] and includes the songs "Ma and Pa" by Fishbone;[21][23] "Germfree Adolescents" and "I Am a Poseur" by X-Ray Spex;[21][23] "Ghost Town" by the Specials;[21][24] "River" by Ibeyi;[21] "The Wolf" by the Brat;[21] "You Sexy Thing" by Hot Chocolate;[21][24] "Young, Gifted, Black, in Leather" by Special Interest;[21] "Freakin' Out" by Death;[21][23] "Fall Asleep" by Big Joanie;[21][23] "Cult of Personality" by Living Colour;[21][24] "Wolf Like Me" by TV on the Radio;[21][23] "Boot" by Tamar-kali;[21][23] and "Raising the Dead" and "Scream Faire" by Coulais.[21]

Speaking about the film's soundtrack, Selick stated:[22]

Before Afro-punk, there was Fishbone. There was actually several black punk bands. Fishbone was punk, ska, funk. But I ended up meeting those guys, who are still performing, and we have one of their songs in the film. They're still performing now, but I met them in the 1980s. And I wrote and directed a music video of one of their songs called "Party at Ground Zero"... And then there's all these other pioneers of the time that, some are forgotten, some are remembered, especially with the Afro-punk movement, they're remembered. But there was bands, you know, Death, Pure Hell. The Brat, which was a Chicano band, actually, in L.A. Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex. Bad Brains. Fishbone.

Producer Win Rosenfeld suggested the use of Fishbone's "Ma and Pa" as a means of "building that bridge, sonically" between the characters of Kat and her parents.[22]

Release[edit]

The cast and crew at the Toronto Film Festival in 2022

Wendell & Wild premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 11, 2022[25] and was released in select theaters on October 21, 2022,[5] before its release on Netflix on October 28, 2022.[26]

On November 6, 2018, Netflix announced that it would be available for streaming in 2021.[27][28][29] On July 18, 2019, Key announced the film was planned to be released in late 2020.[10] On January 14, 2021, Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos revealed that the release would be moved to "2022 or later" to meet Netflix's criteria of releasing six animated features per year.[30] Simon & Schuster would adapt the screenplay to novel form, to tie into the film's release.[15]

Reception[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 80% of 109 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 6.9/10. The website's consensus reads, "Boasting visual marvels to match its ambitious and inclusive story, Wendell & Wild is a spooky treat for budding horror fans."[31] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 69 out of 100, based on 30 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[32]

Chase Hutchinson of Collider, gave a positive review, saying, "when it all comes together, Wendell & Wild ends up feeling liberating, both artistically and thematically, with top work from all involved."[33] Sarah Bea Milner, of /Film, also gave a positive review, writing, "move over The Nightmare Before Christmas — there's a new stop-motion horror flick in town."[34] Michael Rechtshaffen, of The Hollywood Reporter, further praised the film for being "a fresh, highly original concoction of playful Grand Guignol proportions."[35] Radheyan Simonpillai, of The Guardian, wrote "the more characters Selick has to work with, the more room there is for his deliciously strange and comic visual craft."[36] In a positive review, for RogerEbert.com, Brian Tallerico wrote "there's no denying that this is a world that animation fans will just want to explore, to live in, to savor. It's been too long since we got a window into Henry Selick's brain and it's still an amazing view."[37]

Meagan Navarro, of Bloody Disgusting, gave a lukewarm review, writing, "it's an entertaining, if a bit overstuffed, romp through hell and back, with memorable characters and amusingly macabre hijinks."[38] Esther Zuckerman, writing for Vanity Fair, said the film "is slightly too convoluted with some world-building short-changed, but it twists and turns to a place of genuine emotion and a rousing call to take down the ghouls of the real world rather than the demons of the underworld."[39] The Playlist's Jason Bailey praised the characters and stop-motion animation, assigning the film a grade of "B-" but ultimately concluding: "If it were a might tighter (it runs a rather flabby 105 minutes), or more rapidly paced, they might've really had something here; the highs are high, but Selick struggles to keep its narrative momentum going".[40]

Accolades[edit]

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
Hollywood Music in Media Awards November 16, 2022 Best Original Score in a Fantasy Film Bruno Coulais Nominated [41]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hipes, Patrick (January 27, 2020). "'Rafiki' Helmer Wanuri Kahiu To Direct Gotham Group's YA Adaptation 'The Black Kids'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 2, 2020.
  2. ^ "Wendell & Wild".
  3. ^ "Wendell & Wild". Writers Guild of America West. Retrieved April 9, 2022.
  4. ^ Flores, Terry (January 25, 2020). "'Klaus', 'I Lost My Body' Top 47th Annie Awards as Netflix Dominates". Variety. Retrieved April 1, 2020.
  5. ^ a b Legacy, Spencer (August 30, 2022). "Netflix 2022 Movie Release Dates Set for Rest of Year". ComingSoon.net. Retrieved August 31, 2022.
  6. ^ Robinson, Tasha (August 30, 2022). "Coraline's director made a new movie — but Jordan Peele worried Get Out would kill it". Polygon. Retrieved August 31, 2022.
  7. ^ Flores, Terry (November 3, 2015). "Henry Selick, Key & Peele Developing Animated Feature 'Wendell and Wild' (Exclusive)". Variety. Retrieved October 9, 2019.
  8. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (March 14, 2018). "Netflix Wins Stop-Motion Animated 'Wendell And Wild': Henry Selick, Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key Aboard". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 9, 2019.
  9. ^ Milligan, Mercedes (July 19, 2019). "Keegan-Michael Key: 'Wendell and Wild' Could Premiere Next Year". Animation Magazine. Retrieved October 17, 2020.
  10. ^ a b Graves, Sabina (July 18, 2019). "Key and Peele's 'Wendell and Wild' Eyeing Late 2020 or 2021 Release". ComingSoon.net. Retrieved October 17, 2020.
  11. ^ Hopewell, John; Lang, Jamie (June 4, 2020). "Annecy Film Festival Presentations Include 'Frozen 2' Doc, Lord & Miller, and 'Chicken Run' Reunion". Variety. Retrieved June 5, 2020.
  12. ^ Desowitz, Bill (June 4, 2020). "Annecy 2020 Online's Masterclasses and Previews, from 'Spider-Verse' Follow-Up to 'Frozen 2' Doc". IndieWire. Retrieved June 5, 2020.
  13. ^ King, Jack (March 14, 2022). "'Wendell & Wild' Teaser Announces Ving Rhames, David Harewood, and More Joining Voice Cast". Collider. Retrieved March 14, 2022.
  14. ^ Lang, Jamie (June 15, 2020). "Annecy Hosts Netflix Masterclass for 'Wendell & Wild's' Henry Selick, Bruno Coulais". Variety. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  15. ^ a b Siegel, Tatiana (October 8, 2020). "Gotham Group CEO Ellen Goldsmith-Vein on Mass Agent Exodus and the Future of the 'Maze Runner' Franchise". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 11, 2020.
  16. ^ Peter Sorg Biography
  17. ^ Robert Anich Biography
  18. ^ Solem-Pfeifer, Chance (February 10, 2021). "Portland Remains a World Hub for Stop-Motion Animation". Willamette Week. Retrieved August 22, 2021.
  19. ^ 'I wanted to pull back from that sort of perfection and leave more mistakes in'
  20. ^ ‘Wendell & Wild’: How Henry Selick’s Jordan Peele Team-Up Redefines Stop-Motion Animation
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Llewellyn, Tom (October 28, 2022). "Wendell and Wild Soundtrack: Every Song from the Stop-Motion Movie". HITC. Retrieved November 13, 2022.
  22. ^ a b c Gooden, Tai (September 6, 2022). "Wendell & Wild Honors Black Punk Rock Legends and Lovers from Past and Present". Nerdist. Retrieved November 13, 2022.
  23. ^ a b c d e f g Watson, Elijah C. (October 6, 2022). "The 'Wendell & Wild' Soundtrack Is A Crash Course For Getting Into Black Rock And Punk Music". Okayplayer. Retrieved November 13, 2022.
  24. ^ a b c Brown, Dwight (November 10, 2022). "Movie Review: 'Wendell & Wild' is jampacked to a fault". Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. Retrieved November 13, 2022.
  25. ^ Welk, Brian (July 29, 2022). "TIFF 2022 Lineup: Films From Tyler Perry, Peter Farrelly, Sam Mendes and Catherine Hardwicke to Premiere". TheWrap. Retrieved July 29, 2022.
  26. ^ Shirey, Paul (August 30, 2022). "Key & Peele's Animated Wendell & Wild Reveals Release Date And Poster". Screen Rant. Retrieved August 31, 2022.
  27. ^ Trumbore, Dave (November 6, 2018). "Netflix Sets Guillermo del Toro's 'Pinocchio' and Henry Selick's 'Wendell & Wild' for 2021". Collider. Archived from the original on November 6, 2018. Retrieved October 9, 2019.
  28. ^ Wilson, Lena (January 20, 2021). "The 25 Most Anticipated Horror Movies Of 2021". The Playlist. Retrieved February 9, 2021.
  29. ^ Elvy, Craig (January 6, 2021). "The Most Anticipated Movies of 2021". Screen Rant. Retrieved February 9, 2021.
  30. ^ De Wit, Alex (January 14, 2021). "Netflix Unveils 2021 Animated Film Slate, Including Sony Pictures Animation's 'Wish Dragon' And Two Aardman Specials". Cartoon Brew. Retrieved February 17, 2021.
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  32. ^ "Wendell & Wild". Metacritic. Red Ventures. Retrieved November 10, 2022.
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  34. ^ Milner, Sarah Bea (September 12, 2022). "'Wendell & Wild' Review: Jordan Peele + Henry Selick = A Funny, Frightful Film [TIFF]". /Film. Retrieved September 12, 2022.
  35. ^ Rechtshaffen, Michael (September 12, 2022). "'Wendell & Wild' Review: A Playfully Devious Animated Romp From Jordan Peele and Henry Selick". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 12, 2022.
  36. ^ Simonpillai, Radheyan (September 12, 2022). "'Wendell & Wild' review – Jordan Peele and Henry Selick craft a dark adventure". The Guardian. Retrieved September 12, 2022.
  37. ^ Tallerico, Brian (September 13, 2022). "'Wendell & Wild' review". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved September 13, 2022.
  38. ^ Navarro, Meagan (September 11, 2022). "'Wendell & Wild' Review – Henry Selick and Jordan Peele's Stop-Motion Collab Is an Overstuffed Halloween Treat". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved September 12, 2022.
  39. ^ Zuckerman, Esther (September 12, 2022). "Wendell & Wild Introduces a Goth Heroine for a New Generation". Vanity Fair. Retrieved September 13, 2022.
  40. ^ Bailey, Jason (September 13, 2022). "'Wendell & Wild' Review: Henry Selick and Jordan Peele's Stop-Motion Collaboration is Uneven But Engaging [TIFF]". The Playlist. Retrieved September 13, 2022.
  41. ^ Grein, Paul (November 3, 2022). "Rihanna, Lady Gaga & More Nominated for 2022 Hollywood Music in Media Awards: Full List". Billboard. Retrieved November 3, 2022.

External links[edit]