REVIEW: Wendell & Wild

Wendell and Wild was well-wended but a bit too wild…

The cast is quite stacked, including Ramona Young who I knew from Never Have I Ever, and Key and Peele (who I quite comically didn’t realize was Jordan Peele as well, until writing this review). Father Bests, the head of Kat’s all-girls Catholic school, is voiced by James Hong, whose voice is recognizable as Mr. Ping, Po’s adoptive father from Kung Fu Panda. But Father Bests’ familiarity still poked at me. I finally scratched the itch when I realized he looks familiar too: he resembles RBG but if she was a dude and a vampire (Father Bests isn’t actually a vampire, just looks like one).

There’s also quite a noticeable bit of diversity and representation within the cast and characters. The students within Rust Bank Catholic are all people of color. In this world, while race doesn’t seem to explicitly reflect our society’s real relationship with racial tensions and injustice (unless the town council members were presumably white (though we can’t tell in their skeletal forms)), the film points out microaggressions towards the trans community, as seen through Kat’s friend, Raul’s experience.

Among the film’s great elements are its music, of which my favorite was “Ghost Town” by the Specials. Listen to the official soundtrack here:

WENDELL & WILD – BTS. Cr: Ariel Spaugh/NETFLIX © 2022

The animation is also above par. During a set visit from Screen Rant, Henry Selick said, “It’s not all lubricated imagery, perfectly done, that’s just like every other Hollywood CG film.” Yet this somehow makes the animation feel crisp and meticulous, a step even higher than the high-quality claymation of Coraline and The Nightmare Before Christmas. I first noticed this during a shot of ice sloshing under the wheel of a car transporting Kat from prison to her new school. The sound along with the depth / detail of the crunching ice was extremely satisfying.

The detail put into the visuals and worldbuilding of Rust Bank was also highly appreciated. From the snowy setting to the hellish creatures, to the wardrobe. The fits felt familiar — from the pooling nuns robes to the schoolgirl skirts and blazers with safety pins cutting through them — yet held an edge. Kat’s fashion is very in right now, though a friend pointed out that her vamped-up, rebellious school uniform felt unrealistic and erroneous of punk culture couture, much of which came out of the stuff of second hand stores and rummage sales.

I guess what felt off about the movie was its rating. As a PG-13 stop-animation film on Netflix, just from looking at the cover and synopsis, it presents as a spooky movie for kids. Upon finishing the film, it still seemed like it was meant to be a children’s movie (maybe more for tweens), because of the lack of curse words or other PG-13 things. It felt like the movie had been planned and made that way, but the rating was hiked up last minute because of the dark comedy and subject matter (demons). Maybe the demon brothers Wendell and Wild getting high off of their dad’s hair cream, the juvenile justice system, death, and Kat’s parents’ business that got burnt down (a brewery) also took part in the heightened rating.

A few elements of the script and plot resolution also felt a bit too easy. Kat getting a hold of her power after “owning her memories” and saying to her monster, “I’m in control of my life now, not you,” felt a little cheesy and too forward. The ending – family reconciled, Klax Korp finished, whooo victory! – is packaged up a little too nicely, especially because of the film’s multiple threads. The story opens up too many conflicts in the first half, but couldn’t tie up those loose ends within the 1 hour and 45 minutes, without tackling them in a way that felt forced. Maybe demons and the prison industrial context were a little too much to handle. Jordan Peele’s storyline and dialogue are usually his strong suit, so this felt a little disappointing. I had very high hopes because of the household names, and felt like all of the anticipation wasn’t lived up to. As my friend said, “Maybe he’s better with real people.”

But overall, Wendell and Wild was a cool film to watch, especially on Halloween weekend. Just wouldn’t watch twice.


PREVIEW: Wendell & Wild

A great movie to get in the Halloween spirit! Director, Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline) and producer Jordan Peele (Nope, Us, Get Out) team up to bring us this new thrilling stop-animation feature, Wendell & Wild.

I haven’t watched a lot of animated movies like this, but the claymation-like style seems to work well in many October-themed movies: Coraline, Wallace and Gromit, The Book of Life, etc. There is just an unsettling, chill-inducing look about them, and Wendell and Wild’s trailer alone gave me goosebumps. 

The main character, Kat, is a Hell Maiden, who needs her school nun’s help to protect her from her demons. Two of which are brothers, who trick this teen girl into bringing them from the underworld into the land of the living; chaos ensues. Although the film seems to be quite under the radar, it’s highly anticipated, and features an all-star cast (including Key and Peele as the demon brothers)!

The horror comedy flick is rated PG-13, and comes out on October 28th, only on Netflix, right in time to embark into spooky season and Halloween weekend!


Spoilers for the movie will be alluded to. The reviewer highly suggests you watch the movie without reading reviews and essays!

Cheeks stained with tears, the Wilson family is pushed onto the coach and forced to face the intruders that broke into their home.  

When asked who they ask, the leader— Adelaide’s doppelgänger— says in a voice hoarse from apparent disuse, “We are Americans.”

It feels like a bizarre thing to say in the moment, almost out of place in the rest of her story, but the Jordan Peele cultivates a heart-wrenching universe that forces the viewer to evaluate their place within the world and where their empathy (and efforts) are lent.

Us is a beautifully-made film, both in visuals and story. It is crafted with love and laced with horror (both immediately apparent and fridge, the best kind!). It follows Adelaide Wilson, played by the stunning Lupita Nyong’o, and her family during a summer vacation to their beach house. Adelaide is plagued by memories of a short, but traumatic event as a child that hangs over her during the trip. Before she can cut their time in Santa Cruz short, the family is threatened by their almost-exact clones. 

My favorite horror movies tend to make me more sad than scared— personally, this usually chalks up to whether or not the characters where given the chance to be a part of the narrative rather than just becoming the bloody punchline. Adelaide’s motivations and background center this story— Nyong’o switches from the skeptical and vulnerable Adelaide to the menacing and collected doppelgänger Red. Nyong’o adopts difference voices, facial expressions, movement to demonstrate the constrat of these two characters– both equally complex and mysterious.

The rest of the Wilsons are absolutely lovable. Winston Duke (Black Panther) plays the sweet, dorky father— he dabs in front of his daughter and spins his tiny motorboat in efforts to impress his family. Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex) play Adelaide and Gabe’s children— an apathetic teenage daughter and a strange little brother that capture enough of their own personal uniqueness to keep the character types fresh and likable. The family’s interactions allow them to be the perfect supporting cast for Adelaide and her character arc, which deviates far from expectations. Peele’s natural comedic talent shines through their bickering affection for each other.

What leaves you feeling gutted is the constant question of the motive of your villain. Not the doppelgängers– it is somewhat obvious. It is Red and her seemingly omniscient sense of Adelaide and her family. The climax is raw, orchestrated act between the two players, a switch of roles that shows how the movie played with your perceptions. Your hero is only as good as your villain, etc. 

Everyone and their neighbor already dropped the analytical essays about the movies and its dozens and dozens of references/Easter eggs. I am definitely the type to sit down and read them all (The shirt! Her voice! Pluto! Chemicals in the water!), because it just makes you excited as a viewer. Peele and his cast/crew put so much thought and dedication in framing ever single aspect of this film.

Some of the criticism of the movie I heard seems to take issue with the logic of the movie– an argument I disagree with a bit. I do not think movies and their message need to fit immediately with one, and only one, perfect allegory— and I don’t think movies need to lay out their details in a step-by-step guide. Trying to nitpick the world that Us has created takes away the atmosphere it has shaped to bring Adelaide and Red face-to-face.

After all, what we see in Us feels pretty real.