Movie review: '100% Wolf' (2020)
100% Wolf (clip) is a computer-animated comedy film from Australia, released in mid-2020. Based on a 2009 book by Jayne Lyons, the adaptation was directed by Alexs Stadermann, produced by Flying Bark Productions, and it earned $4.6 million. IMDB gives it a score of 5.7 out of 10, and Rotten Tomatoes is similar. It's definitely for kids. Watching it as an adult furry fan, I have mixed feelings about it.
It takes about a quarter of the film's 96-minute running time to set up the story, so minor spoiler warning. There's a pack of werewolves living in modern-day society. Despite keeping it secret to avoid human persecution, on nights of the full moon they parkour around the city like superheroes to help rescue people. The youngest member of the pack's core family, Freddy Lupin, can't wait until he's old enough to become a werewolf too, and has a good relationship with his father, Flasheart, the pack leader.
Until things go wrong. Freddy loses both his father and the pack's sacred moonstone ring. Everyone is devastated. Fast-forward six years. I guess Freddy is being home-schooled? No sign of any friends, and his mother passed away when he was younger. Anyway, the pack still lacks a leader, or "High Howler", although Flasheart's brother, Hotspur, clearly thinks he deserves the position. For now, it's time for Freddy's coming-of-age ceremony, except instead of becoming a wolf, he turns into a poodle. Believing they've offended the Moon spirits, the family tasks Freddy with recovering the ring.
They know exactly where it is. It fell into the hands of Foxwell Cripp, a weird loner who drives an ice cream truck. He's obsessed with tracking the werewolves down, believing that they ate a small child. Freddy's quest is sabotaged by his cruel cousins, who trap him in poodle form, hoping that Hotspur (their father) will become the new leader. Freddy heads into the city and meets a stray dog named Batty. She reluctantly helps him out, which is awkward for Freddy because dogs and werewolves really hate each other. The plot progresses from there.
Personally, I didn't enjoy watching most of this film - with some exceptions. I liked the set-up, I was good with that. The main problem was Freddy. I disliked almost everything he did for the first half-hour, and for a little while afterwards. The only break was a montage where Batty teaches him how to dog. Otherwise, Freddy acts like an idiot, and the jokes written around him were more annoying than funny. It was stupid, although not as disappointingly stupid as The Donkey King, and marginally more tolerable than Dragon Rider.
Even if my attention span kept wandering, there were moments of potential that kept me curious. Other dogs that the characters meet. A silly evil plot that unfolds. Foxwell Cripp, the ice cream guy, when I described him as a weird loner, you don't get it. I mean, he's really weird, and this manifests in unexpected ways.
Here's the thing: I liked the last 15 minutes of this film. It's as if the writers and animators collectively decided, hey, this whole thing has been kind of ridiculous, so let's go all the way and have fun with it. That's when I couldn't stop watching. The first three-fifths of the film - ugh. And then somehow my feelings towards it started to change? Well, once the excessively long urination joke was finally over with.
So yeah, lots going on during the climax! It's still pretty stupid, in a mostly good way. I agree with IMDB, in that I'd rate the start of the film a 5.6, except the last bit as an entertaining (if silly and dumb) 7.2. Let's discuss other aspects! Voice-acting was ok. Music was ok. Animation quality - pretty good, although a couple of gags and some dialog went by a bit fast. Forget about werewolf transformations. It happens in a split-second, the humans kind of... shrink into a singularity of light, and then there's a big puff of smoke.
The werewolves are fluffy and canine, though with a very cartoony, top-heavy body. They're quadrupedal most of the time, with occasional moments of bipedalism when it's useful. The dogs in the film are of various breeds and sizes. The smaller dogs - like Batty - have abnormally large heads. (Surprisingly, this briefly becomes a plot point.) I also really liked the dogs' expressions. That's why at the start of this article, I provided a link to a clip, to showcase the facial animation. Also because the official trailer makes the film look more exciting than it actually is, and spoils a couple of scenes.
Would I recommend this film? Barely, with a big maybe? I liked the scenario, but not the writing, especially during the first half. I'm very much on the fence with this one. It looks like it's available on Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, and possibly other streaming services. Some may be region-locked to Australia or the UK.
There's also a 26-episode television spin-off series that came out earlier this year, called 100% Wolf: Legend of the Moonstone, in which Freddy wants to attend Howlington, an academy for werewolves only. Judging by the trailer, the fur and hair textures are not as good as the movie.
It's no surprise Freddy makes some bad decisions, with both his parents out of the picture for years, and his cousins apparently hostile towards him. I guess it goes to show the importance of relatives in upbringing – and that sometimes, even a 100% wolf can end up a dog!
In general, I think this movie had a lot of ideas, and couldn't quite bring them into one cohesive story, but I will say I really like the basic idea behind Cripp. I think it's kind of interesting that he just naturally Is A Freak, but that doesn't actually make him a bad person. He's just a weirdo! The only thing that motivates him to actually serve as an antagonist is completely reasonable. He thinks a kid got killed right in front of him, and he failed to save him. It's honestly kind of heroic, just filtered through this very strange dude.
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