In a post-apocalyptic landscape, three friends, a mouse, a piglet, and a little fox, dream of escaping their horrible little island and moving to the city where they might breath the clean air, drink the clean water, and live their lives out prosperously. But they neither have the ability or the means to leave. Dinky the mouse steals “happy pills” from her fundamentalist parents, who constantly berate her and use a baby Jesus doll that literally cries blood to fill her with guilt. Zachariah the piglet lives with his drug-addicted mother who turns into a giant spider when she gets her fix.
When the three have finally had enough, they steal from the spider and run to the garbage dump where they find Dinky’s brother scavenging for copper. He takes them to Uncle Klaus who sells them a talking rubber duck that might be able to float them across the sea. Before they can leave, they are attacked by a group of scavenger rats known as the Forgotten Children. The children accuse the friends of stealing from them and as punishment plan to execute them.
Meanwhile, Birdboy, who has a demon living inside him that can only be satiated by the “happy pills” Dinky steals for him, is being shot at by the police who think he’s dealing drugs. When shot, he retreats to a small grotto that contains a large tree filled with birds. When the birds die, their souls take the form of bright yellow bugs which Birdboy consumes to heal his wounds. When the friends are in trouble, Birdboy turns into a giant flying raptor to save them.
Birdboy: The Forgotten Children is a weird movie. It was directed by Pedro Rivera and Alberto Vazquez (who wrote the graphic novel the film is based upon). The animation is at times stark, vibrant, and hallucinatory. Its symbolism-laden narrative is strangely funny, at times incomprehensible, and darkly sad. Though filled with cute, little, talking animals, it is a decidedly adult film. Not because it contains the usual adult fare - dirty language, sex, and violence, though it has a bit of all of those - but because its themes and tone are way too dark and scary for your typical six-year-old. It would likely give them nightmares. Hell, I’ll be sleeping with the lights on for a month.
Birdboy's meaning is a bit opaque for me to entirely embrace but its so starkly original, beautifully animated, and defiantly strange that I absolutely recommend it.
GKIDS continues to put out interesting, non-traditional animated fair in terrific-looking Blu-ray sets. Birdboy: The Forgotten Children is no different. The hand-drawn and water-color-painted animation looks vibrant and clean. The audio is clear and crisp. Bonus features include an interview with the directors, the original Birdboy short film, plus another short from Vasquez, and the trailer.