Kirikou and the Wild Beast (review)

Ya kinda wanna smack someone. The back cover of the new DVD of Kirikou and the Wild Beast, the sequel to the beloved 1998 French film Kirikou and the Sorceress, features this “warning”: “Note: Women are shown in traditional attire (sarongs only), and children wear no clothing.” And you know this is necessary because there are people out there who would be shocked — shocked! I tell you — and offended by women’s naked breasts and little-boy penises in an animated movie that’s as deliberately stylized as a children’s book, or perhaps as (intentionally) unintentionally flat-yet-concentrated as outsider art… that is, not “sexy” or “provocative” in the least. For the rest of us, this enchanting movie — which debuted at Cannes in 2005 but has not been released in the U.S. till now, on DVD — collects West African folk tales into more stories about the strange little superhero Kirikou, who is, like, fetus-tiny yet strong enough and brave enough to take on a witch (the sorceress from the first movie, who’s up to her old tricks again), a hyena, and other threats to his village. Beautifully animated and featuring the music of such talents as Youssou N’Dour (though without, alas, any accompanying bonus materials), this is a movie for the whole family to enjoy. Assuming, of course, that no one is scandalized to discover what a line rendering of the human body looks like.

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