Craig Goodwill adapts his darkly charming 2001 fairy tale short to feature length with great success. It might work better for those who haven’t seen the film it was based on – because it’s more or less the same thing – but the material is just as strong now as it was then and most of the additions help to flesh out Goodwill’s ambitiously batty vision.
Piggybacking on the short’s post-Cabbage Patch Kids styled conceit, Jon (Rob Ramsay) is a former doll abandoned by his now grown up “mother” (Zoie Palmer) that works in a factory birthing new dolls. Wanting a family of his own, Jon and his wife have been raising a baby that’s illegal in their world thanks to the edict of Yuri (Julian Richings), son of the world’s creator and all around general villain. With pressure closing in on them, they flee their vaguely Soviet looking industrial hometown for freedom in the real world. When Jon realizes that Yuri’s henchmen have kidnapped his mother’s young daughter as a part of a new revenue building scheme, he offers up his services to help since she is the only family he’s ever really known outside of town.
While it isn’t as tightly constructed as Goodwill’s short was, the additions here make quite a bit of sense, bringing about a necessary added mythology that does a better job of revealing the world both in and out of Patch Town. Goodwill also nicely plays up the musical elements of the film while also making the material a lot darker and with much higher stakes. It’s a great expansion on a pre-existing story that confirmed my theories that Goodwill had a lot more in mind than just the short. It also benefits from excellent work from a wonderfully emotional and touching Ramsay, a nicely vamping and rhyming Richings, and Suresh John as Jon’s closest confidant/landlord/getaway driver. (Andrew Parker)
Thursday, March 20th, 7:00pm, The Royal (Opening Night Gala)