Brights colors. Neon colors. A subtle shading with the side of a crayon. Black outline drawings. Coloring books. Crayola 64’s. Who doesn’t like coloring or remember the joy of being a kid and doodling, drawing and creating? If you’re a crayon happy kid – big or small – then THE HERO OF COLOR CITY is for you. Color me happy, as I thoroughly enjoyed THE HERO OF COLOR CITY and you will, too. What a fun film! You smile the entire film and can’t help but feel happy as you watch the adventures of Crayons in Color City unfold. After all, who isn’t happy when coloring with crayons or with a box of 64’s!
Ben loves to color! The walls of his bedroom are covered with his prized drawings and his crayons are always in use, spread out on the floor, easily visible at all times. While Ben is always reluctant to stop drawing and go to bed, for his crayons, there’s nothing better. For you see, when Ben sleeps, the crayons come to life and spend their nights in the magical world of Color City, the rainbow colored tunnel entrance for which is inside their crayon box. As soon as Ben drifts off to sleep, the crayons jump into the crayon box and head out for a night of fun and adventure with all the other crayons who visit and live in Color City.
But on this night, scaredy cat Yellow gets left behind. Too afraid to stay behind all by herself, Yellow wants to join her friends but she’s just as afraid to make the journey to the crayon box by herself. Stealing up all of her courage, Yellow determines to be brave and join the party. Unfortunately, things get even more frightening when Yellow inadvertently spurs to life some of Ben’s unfinished drawings; those of King Scrawl and his sidekick Nat.
As King Scrawl and Nat follow Yellow into Color City, all of the crayons get more excitement than they bargained for as King Scrawl and Nat plug up the magical Rainbow Waterfall which gives color to Color City and all the crayons of the world! It’s up to Yellow and her friends to make their way through the treacherous regions leading to Rainbow Waterfall in an effort to stop King Scrawl and Nat before color is gone from the world. Can they save the day? And who among them will be the real HERO OF COLOR CITY?
Although aimed at the kindergarten and under set, THE HERO OF COLOR CITY has a polish and color saturation that belies a “straight to video” release for little kids. There are nice production values adults can appreciate – not to mention some more adult tongue-in-cheek dialogue peppered throughout. Notable is some terrific, clean lined animation that plays with color and basic geometric shape.
I, for one, always love anthropomorphism and particularly when it’s well done, as it is with THE HERO OF COLOR CITY. Going a step further, director Frank Gladstone and writers Jess Kedward, J.P. McCormick, Kirsty Peart, Rich Raczelowski and Evan Spiliotopoulos, emboldened each character with well-known personality traits associated with colors, e.g., Yellow is both sunny but a yellow bellied scaredy cat, Red is spicy and hot, green is done up like 3M green/black Scotch products, Grey is well, grey, and constantly referring to other crayons as “young whippersnappers” just like an old fuddy-duffy would do, while Pink just makes me think of the “Think Pink” scene with Kay Thompson and Audrey Hepburn in “Funny Face”, and so on and so on. Color is vibrant and telling. Lines are clean and cleanly drawn like kids would find in a coloring book. Shapes are familiar and identifiable. Of all the characters and colors, however, a personal favorite is none other than Professor Heliotrope who is so clearly modeled after Jerry Lewis as The Nutty Professor! WHEE!!!
Real joy comes from top notch voicing. This is no slouch voice cast! Rosie Perez is scene-stealing as the fiery and saucy Red while Owen Wilson just charms as Ricky the Dinosaur. Christina Ricci bubbles and frets as Yellow. Wayne Brady is simply silly fun as Blue. Craig Ferguson is prim and proper snarky as Nat. Jeremy Guskin is perfection as Professor Heliotrope. And never in a million years would I have suspected Sean Astin as Horatio the Bee but Astin and the character enchant – and not just the voice but the imagination and detail with Horatio’s drawing!
“Scribble” drawings as part of the animation process are not only fun and cool and very coloring book outline, but the fact that drawings are colored in with the texture of a crayon is terrific to see. Noticeable is that uncolored drawings, and particularly King Scrawl, all harken to the style of drawings in “Harold and the Purple Crayon” or “Where the Wild Things Are” in terms of style of outline and shaping of body parts. Adorable! Great touchstones for kids. A standout in animation and color is Rainbow Waterfall. Simply beautiful, making one think of colored aquarium rocks or crystals you grow in water.
The story itself is fun and incorporates some great messaging without hitting you over the head. The idea of heroes coming from the most unexpected places and in the most unexpected forms is solidly maintained. Color City characters are also designed as small town everyday folks kids would meet in their neighborhood.
Director Gladstone also serves as the film’s editor and excels with the pacing so as to keep a young mind engaged, as well as limiting the film’s length for bathroom time. THE HERO OF COLOR CITY works on all counts. The visuals, the story and the characters keep moving and never stagnate. There is always an eye-popping visual, color blend, adventure or music to keep the attention of a fidgety kid..
Although the lyric songs are a bit “meh”, the score music works well and relies on an easy beat that kids can hop to or pound on tables to.
THE HERO OF COLOR CITY will be a hero to the younger set – and even to some of us in the older set – who just want to smile and be happy.
Directed by Frank Gladstone
Written by Jess Kedward, J.P. McCormick, Kirsty Peart, Rich Raczelowski and Evan Spiliotopoulos
Voice Cast: Christina Ricci, Owen Wilson, Wayne Brady, Craig Ferguson, Sean Astin, Jeremy Guskin, Jessica Capshaw
THE HERO OF COLOR CITY colors movie screens across the country now.