I’ve been concerned about my reputation of late. I’ve been labelled as someone who only watches obscure foreign films. Unfortunately Terkel won’t help my case, and may in fact push me down the path towards ‘pretentious arsehole’, (“towards?” you might ask, insinuating that I am already there. To which I might tell you to bog off.)
But two points to keep in mind here. One, this was a preview of Terkel in Trouble, which means it isn’t on general release yet, and therefore like me, you may not have heard of it. Two, the tickets were free. But, as much as I might defend it, Terkel is a Danish animation. Pretension, pretension, pretension.
But hang on a minute. This isn’t how it sounds. It’s probably closer to South Park than Spirited Away. It’s a sort of computer animated morality tale about young Terkel who’s getting bullied at school. And it’s one of the closest depictions of school-age kids I’ve seen in an animation. Let’s face it – children nowadays are unpleasant little shits who should be drowned in a large bucket of rancid water (of course I’m generalising. A small minority are acceptable.) And in Terkel’s world they smoke, swear and are cruelly unpleasant. This realism might well appeal to ‘the kids’ and may help to pass on the anti-bullying message.
But this isn’t just made-for-schools trite. Terkel is at times laugh-out-loud inappropriate. There’s random acts of extreme violence (falling down stairs, fork in the eye, ear bitten off), unpleasant deaths (birds flying into walls, people splatting after jumping from high places) and lots and lots of swearing. The presence of songs worried me a little. As a rule, I despise musicals (except for ones that use the music in a clever way, or feature Ewan McGregor). I think it’s because they remind me of drama school arses, belting out ‘summer-bloody-loving’ with wide, smug smiles, speaking LOUD-ERLY and pronouncing everything ala Orlando Bloom, thinking they’re acting geniuses when in fact they’re just little arrogant rich kids with more money than talent who flounce around and waste perfectly good oxygen that could be used for the rest of the world.
Sorry – where was I? Oh yes, there are songs in Terkel. And they started off not too long, and with some amusing lyrics, so it was ok. And then an absolute gem popped up. An R&B love song, describing one character’s sudden realisation that he liked a girl, all because of what she said to him, which was (and this formed the basis of the chorus): “Fuck of you twat, you’re ugly and your mum shags horses.” Brilliant stuff, especially with an added key change.
So Terkel isn’t exactly a kid’s film. The plot and messages resonate with kiddie morals, but the adult jokes aren’t carefully folded in ala Pixar. You just can’t hide a gag involving child prostitution to rich white tourists in Thailand. Guilty laughter would be the general consensus, and this film was a guilty pleasure. It’s also dubbed with some ace British talent, including Bill Bailey, Adrian Edmondson, and Johnny Vegas (stretching his acting skills to play a drunken lout).
Perhaps it falters when the adult humour occasionally subsides, and you wonder exactly who this film is for. Teenagers? Kids? Adults? Who knows. If you find South Park a waste of space you’re probably not going to take well to Terkel. But if your sense of humour twists just the right way, there’ll be enough tid bits to keep you amused. I think I’m going to be kind and give this CF0. This is a recommendation for DVD rental only, though. If you’re an adult and go to see this at the cinema, people might think you’re a bit weird.