Representation in stop motion animation

Eduardo Jr. Martinez, Reporter

This girl has demons and their names are Wendell and Wild. “Wendell & Wild” is the new stop motion film on Netflix directed by Henry Selick with a screenplay by Henry Selick and Jordan Peele.

After the death of her parents, Koniqua Elliot, or Kat (voiced by Lyric Ross), has to go to Rust Bank Catholic School while two demons enlist her help to be summoned to the land of the living.

The stop motion animation keeps the movie going at a very fast pace, which works to its advantage as it keeps the audience participating in the movie while being quite enjoyable. The film also carries much of Jordan Peele’s sense of humor in the subversion of expectations. Selick’s design of characters and direction of stop motion still remain as hallmarks. As well, this film is not afraid to use its PG-13 rating with many of the scenes coming outside of left field for a supposed children’s film.

The film has excellent representation, with characters and a cast that represents a variety of people of color. This includes Asians, Native Indigenous and Hispanics within the film, especially with the main Black lead and having a trans character represented within a stop motion film. Ross really sells herself as a 13-year-old punk girl and Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele perform spectacularly as a comedic duo of demonic brothers.

The movie soundtrack is amazing, using punk and soul to set the vibe for the rest of the film and using it for comedic elements and symbolizing characters.

The film gets heavy handed in its themes surrounding the prison industrial complex and trauma. The flick uses the demons’ position in hell and the school plans to Kat dealing with the trauma of the death of her parents help explore the school to prison pipeline and children that are dealing with trauma. Still, the movie is very much heartfelt with the theme family, with Kat and her parents and the demonic brothers, Wendell and Wild, with their father teaching the importance of the parents’ role in protecting one’s own child.

This film, while not in the same league with Henry Selick’s other works such as “Coraline” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” at least deserves a watch for Jordan Peele’s writing and wonderful representation of characters. It is also great to watch Henry Selick return to stop motion after 13 years.