Title: Free Jimmy
Genre: Animation, Comedy
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Simon Pegg
Director: Christopher Nielsen
Sometimes, even when a film succeeds in getting on board a whole host of stars, a film just doesn't seem able to get it's foot in the door; Free Jimmy tells the tragic tale filled with heartache, tragedy, hope, and a whole lot of drugs. This is one animated film that won't be accepted by the family friendly Pixar or Dreamworks industry; in fact they had to travel all the way to Norway to find a company with a sense of humour strong enough to tackle this material. When three stoners agree to join their old buddy in working at a dodgy Russian circus, what they didn't expect was Jimmy; an elephant addicted to crack, who in true style soon escapes from his incompetent captors. Onwards ensues their quest to save Jimmy, but they aren't the only ones with him in their sights; the Lappish mafia, a troupe of Scottish hunters and an extremist animal liberation movement all have their own reasons for wanting him.
The CGI work is obviously an important aspect of an all-CGI film, and whilst I usually try to look past any budget offerings – as this one immediately becomes apparent that it is – but it really is poor, and every so often the shoddy work will detract from the story being told. Which isn't to say that it's impossible to look past it for the majority of the films short run-time, but takes a few moments to become accustomed to the manner the characters move and look; the stoners aren't squeaky clean by any stretch of the imagination, and the rest move with such a lack of realism; such a rubbery manner of motion bouncing around that it at times that it brings to mind “Team America” (and not in a good way), and it doesn't seem to be done for comic effect. I remember watching this before and seemed to have fond enough memories of it, but sadly it doesn't quite work; there are so many groups of characters you'd have loved to see collide but it never really happens. There's enough of them that few really get fleshed out, with the possible exception of a handful who feel like they're the driving force for their troupe.
In fact, for a film with so much apparently occurring; so many different motives for wanting the elephant, not to mention the elephants journey himself, it often surprisingly feels somewhat slow-paced. It keeps moving but it never seems to pick up the pace from the introduction as with most films; we spend so little time with so few characters that we never really get to grips with their motivation in all the chaos, and yet spend so long in trying to move the plot forward that this comedy forgets to put in the punchlines for many of the jokes. In fact the saving grace doesn't come from the comedy at all, but rather from the elephant itself and the little time spent on his struggle with the addiction, somehow taking a break from all the anarchy going on before it to deliver on a silent yet engaging emerging friendship between Jimmy and a moose. It all sounds like such a perfect combination of elements to let the laughs roll – and there is indeed a Norwegian version of this film, using a Norwegian cast and different dialogue which might fare better – but after watching this film for the second time, I can't help but wonder what on earth I saw in it the first time around.