Gorgeous stop-motion tale 'Wendell & Wild' is mixed bag of tricks, treats

Posted at 11:03 AM, Oct 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-27 13:03:55-04

"Wendell & Wild," which drops on Netflix Friday, is a gorgeous stop-motion film without much of a soul.

It's an off day for director Henry Selick, the renowned maestro of such dark stop-motion masterpieces as "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and "Coraline."

The story follows troubled 13-year-old orphan Kat (Lyric Ross), who blames herself for her parents' depths and comes to believe she can make up for her mistakes by enlisting the help of demons Wendell (Keegan-Michael Key) and Wild (Jordan Peele).

Key and Peele recapture some of the magic of their sketch series, but their humor fails to connect with the movie's ever-shifting emotional core.

Bolstered by a strong voice cast that includes Angela Bassett and Ving Rhames, it's unfortunate that the screenplay can't match the visuals or star quality.

Much of the humor seems aimed at adults, but the bumbling plot bubbles with teen angst and seems meant for those in the tween set.

The mismatched production ventures off on aimless asides and lacks the signature frights and emotional resonance established in "Nightmare" and "Coraline."

The bizarre story culminates in a sad, barely-satisfying conclusion that leaves too many threads hanging. While a sometimes fun and often exciting film, "Wendell & Wild" ends up in limbo.