If you have children that haven’t stopped singing Part of Your World since seeing The Little Mermaid, prepare for more underwater obsession. Produced by DreamWorks Animation, the folks behind Shrek and How To Train Your Dragon, Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken has a lot going on beneath its awkward title.
X-Men actor Lana Condor voices Ruby, a shy and studious high school student dealing with the normal teenage awkwardness leading up to prom. However, an incident at school involves her publicly discovering her power – she’s a kraken, a seafaring creature who can shift into human form. She learns about her family’s feud with the narcissistic mermaids, and looks to discover a powerful trident that can help end the grudge.
A big melting pot of influences, it’s easy to point to parts of the film that are similar to something else. The main conceit is reminiscent of Pixar’s Luca, while there’s elements of Turning Red, The Little Mermaid, and almost every popular high school movie of the last twenty years. It makes for an awkward experience at times as some plot twists are head-scratchers, but the script, co-written by South Park and Team America veteran Pam Brady, cuts through any sentimentality. The casting also helps bring humanity to the myth-making. Toni Collette and Colman Domingo bring warmth as Ruby’s parents, while Jane Fonda is loving life bringing some majesty to Ruby’s grandmother, the Warrior Queen of the Seven Seas.
While not a classic, Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken swims along nicely to a wholesome conclusion. For 90 minutes of family friendly diversion, beleaguered summer holiday parents could do a lot worse.
Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken is in cinemas from 30th June