Matt Pais, @mattpais
RedEye movie critic
September 6, 2012
**1/2 (out of four)
Knowing that Forest Whitaker and Evanston-raised Joan Cusack lend their voices to “Toys in the Attic” actually tells you almost nothing about the film. The stars sound unrecognizable in this Czech Republic-made, stop-motion animated feature, which easily earns a capital-W for weird.
Sorta like a dream “Toy Story” might have after experimenting in ways that could lead to arrest, “Toys in the Attic” chronicles a team effort to save kidnapped doll Buttercup (Vivian Schilling) from the clutches of the Head (Douglas Urbanski). And by team effort, I mean cooperation between a teddy bear (Whitaker), a mouse scientist (Cusack), the always rhyming Sir Handsome (Cary Elwes) and Laurent (Marcelo Tubert), a clay meatball-looking thing with a pencil nose and bottle cap hat.
The movie’s Czech language version won the grand prize at the New York International Children’s Film Festival, assumedly in praise of its bizarre visuals more than its ordinary, meandering story. (I love when characters scale a door mountain climber-style using nails.) “Toys in the Attic” falls well below the inventive, hand-made achievements of “ParaNorman” but above something like “The Secret World of Arriety,” whose secret world is just a smaller version of our own. In “Toys in the Attic,” cats don disguises to mess with train tracks and monkey EMTs tend to wounds suffered by inflatable dragons. Memorable? Not really. Trippy? Dude.
“Toys in the Attic” opens Friday at the AMC South Barrington.
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