Released: 5th March
Seen: 8th March
So there seems to be this weird new trend going on at my local cinema and I don’t like it at all. For some reason over the last year, every few months an animated film is put on a big screen that clearly was meant to go direct to DVD. I’ve now seen so many awful animated films in a cinema that I thought I was numb to them. We’re not talking your generally bad animated films either, nothing that’s just bland or boring. No, we’re talking crap like Arctic Justice, Cats (not that one), Here Comes The Grump and Flying the Nest. Films that look like they were made in a month for the express purpose of being sold in bulk to video retailers to help them have filler on their shelves. These movies are not meant to turn up in actual cinemas, they’re not built to be presented there… but they keep on coming, and today we have the first animated abortion of 2020 and oh my god, I hope this is the worst one of this year because I can’t handle any more of this.
The Big Trip starts with a very stupid stork delivering a Panda. Because he is a stupid stork, that’s his entire character, he delivers the Panda to a bear named Mic-Mic (Pauly Shore). Mic-Mic the Bear is a mean old bear who yells at everyone, that’s his character. He particularly likes to yell at Oscar (Drake Bell), Oscar is a rabbit who thinks Mic-Mic is his friend despite Mic-Mic essentially telling Oscar to eat what he leaves in the woods (shit, the joke here is that Mic-Mic is a bear who shits in the woods, the movie doesn’t try so why should I?). When Mic-Mic discovers the Baby Panda that he now is in possession of he decides to go take it to where the Pandas are. He gets in a boat (more like a shed that’s put on top of a raft, I don’t care) and Oscar stows away as the two of them head off to return the Panda. On their way, they meet a Pelican, a Wolf and a Tiger (because all of those creatures clearly live in the same area) and try to escape a Python who is in this film because we require conflict.
So, this film is up there on the list of worst animated pieces of garbage I’ve seen. Ignoring the lip movements, which aren’t going to line up because this film was originally in Russian and then dubbed for an international audience, it’s a visual nightmare that really proves that Russia should stick with hacking elections and killing reporters, things they’re good at. It feels like every character was made by a different art department who had a different brief so they never feel like they belong in the same film. Everyone is badly animated, even their basic walk cycles look horrific and when they try to do some kind of comical over-reaction, it falls flat instantly because none of them is animated with decent comic timing of any kind. There are several moments when the animated performance and the vocal performance are completely different and while this is a dub, that’s no excuse. A good dub would let the voice actors know what the animation was so they could adjust their performance accordingly, this isn’t a good dub… or a good film, I can’t imagine it was any better in the original Russian.
The storyline is basic and yet somehow still confusing. The entire plot is “Let’s get this Panda back to their home” but we never quite seem to know where that is because this film has a horrible sense of geography, you can’t tell who is where at what time. Hell, this is apparently taking place in a country where Bears, Pandas, Moles, Tigers, Snakes and Moose can all live together in the same general area but there’s bamboo and a great wall but there’s also bees… it’s a mess, it’s thrown together willy nilly with no care for logic. Several times there were drastic location changes and I was worried that I had fallen asleep and missed something, but I’m not lucky enough to sleep through this. If I had fallen asleep, I might’ve missed the Tiger who only speaks in bad poetry or the wolf with an anxiety complex that’s made worse by the ghost of his father or when I was legally permitted to leave, and I definitely didn’t want to miss that last one.
Visually, I don’t even know what they were trying here. This film has one shot that it absolutely loves doing where a character will be dead centre of the frame and looking directly into the audience while the background goes blurry and it does this often. If you did a shot every time it did this, you would die before the end of the film (which means you wouldn’t need to finish watching the film… just saying, it’s an option). The few times that it’s not doing this genuinely weird shot it has terrible camera motion, bland framing and just some strange style choices. The camera is never in a good spot to make a joke work, the framing is so bad because everything must be in stupid close-ups that aren’t wanted and the animation somehow keeps getting worse. Even basic editing jokes don’t work with this film, it’s stunning how everything just keeps getting worse and worse. I haven’t even gotten onto the weird nitpicks, like the only characters that don’t use words are Monkeys… you know, those animals that we share an ancestor with?
The Big Trip is neither big nor a trip. It’s barely even a film, it’s bargain basement bullshit that hired actors desperate for work and hopes that desperate parents will take their kids to see it. Your kid will hate this movie, straight-up hate. The only way they won’t is if they’re 2 years old and at that point, you might as well sneak the toddler into a screening of a movie that YOU want to see since they’re just in it for the bright colours.