UK Release Date: 30th March 2018
Runtime: 91 minutes
Director: Christopher Jenkins
Writer: Christopher Jenkins, Rob Muir
Starring: Jim Gaffigan, Zendaya, Lance Lim, Greg Proops, Stephen Fry, Craig Ferguson, Jennifer Grey
Synopsis: A goose becomes separated from his flock and ends up protecting a pair of similarly lost ducklings from the clutches of a psychotic cat with a split personality, finding himself in the process, of course.
Hollywood animation is currently in the midst of a golden age, with Pixar firing out hits like Inside Out and Coco, Illumination Entertainment scoring big with its Despicable Me franchise and numerous Japanese studios springing up to fill the void left by Studio Ghibli. Upstart Chinese animators Original Force are looking to join the fray with Duck Duck Goose, but they are missing several crucial components from their debut solo movie – imagination, humour and charm.
Original Force has created a gorgeous animated world for Duck Duck Goose and there are some very impressive vistas littered throughout the movie. However, the story is severely wanting. It follows maverick goose Peng (Jim Gaffigan), who becomes separated from his flock and runs into smart-mouthed duckling Chi (Zendaya) and her tiny infant brother Chao (Lance Lim). When the ducklings are attacked by a vicious, predatory cat (Greg Proops) who slips between multiple personalities, Peng steps in to save their lives and they decide to journey together to their shared destination.
Duck Duck Goose is a tedious adventure that’s entirely devoid of any charm or imagination. The odd couple relationships at its heart have been played out over generations of animated movies and director Christopher Jenkins brings absolutely nothing new to the table. At times, it feels as if some of the dialogue has been poorly translated, which can’t be the case given the American writing team. Lost in translation would have been a convenient excuse here, but it’s not one that holds any water at all.
The voice performances are semi-competent, but the film gives them nothing to chew on from a character perspective. Jim Gaffigan is merely reduced to yelling things, while Greg Proops is all snarl and no substance as the villain of the piece, who disappears for huge swathes of time in order to allow the leaden attempts at character development to take place. Only Zendaya, fresh from the really quite incredible success of The Greatest Showman, comes out somewhat unscathed with a nicely sassy performance as a duckling who’s more aware of the world than Peng seems to think.
Given the rich vein of animated movies available to viewers, and the addition of Paddington 2 when you look at the family market as a whole, it’s baffling to think that anybody will bother to see Duck Duck Goose. It’s a tedious 90-minute effort that might find an audience when it ends up tossed on supermarket shelves for a couple of quid, but definitely isn’t going to find that audience at the multiplex.
Pop or Poop?
Duck Duck Goose is an animated snoozefest that will not achieve its objective of cementing Original Force as an animation studio worthy of standing alongside the likes of Pixar and Illumination. It’s a bland tale that relies too heavily on its pretty images to compensate for a lacklustre script, clichéd story and voice performances that fail to inject any energy into proceedings.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.