The new movie The Hero of Color City is for wee little kids, kindergarten age, who are too young to know the difference between good and bad and probably lack the attention span to sit through 77 minutes of this brightly colored contraption. Friends with youngsters tell me how insufferable much of children’s programming tends to be; it’s hard to tell them to pay movie theaters prices for more of the same.
Think Toy Story, only with crayons instead of various kinds of toys. After six-year-old Ben goes to sleep, his crayons come alive, each with a personality that somewhat suits his/her color. Yellow (Christina Ricci) is a bit scared, Black (David Kaye) is a downer, Red (Rosie Perez) is sassy, and Blue (Wayne Brady) is brave and fun-loving. Every night, the crayons retreat inside their box to Color City, the effervescent home to the Rainbow Waterfall that allows them to keep their lush colors.
One night, Yellow is left behind and accidentally awakens King Scrawl (drawn without a mouth) and his minion Nat (Craig Ferguson), who are mere scribbles without color. Seizing an opportunity, they follow Yellow into Color City and take over the Rainbow Waterfall, leaving Yellow and the other colors to save the city or be erased for good. Luckily, the colors meet Horatio (Sean Astin) and Ricky the Dragon (Owen Wilson), who hold valuable secrets needed to defeat King Scrawl.
This is hardly high art, but the animation is serviceable, and likely would look good in 3D projection. After a while, though, the eye-candy “wow” factor fades and you’re left with a few earworm songs and a boring story. The only clever scene adults will appreciate is when Yellow is carried to the top of a building à la King Kong with his Ann, but even then director Frank Gladstone holds back and doesn’t see the homage through to its full effect. Memo to Gladstone: If there’s only one thing in your movie for adults, and all the rest is for very young children, make sure you do that one thing really well.
Little kids are hardly harsh critics. If they don’t like something, they’ll stop watching, start fiddling, annoy Mom to take them to the bathroom even though they don’t really have to go, etc. Whether this happens with The Hero of Color City obviously depends on the child, but my best guess is that it’ll happen more often than not. Combine this with the fact that the last thing parents need is more annoying earworm jingles, and this is a movie to skip.