VOD film review: 100% Wolf
Pace and humour6.5
Matthew Turner | On 24, Nov 2020
Director: Alexs Stadermann
Cast: Ilai Swindells, Samara Weaving, Jai Courtney, Rhys Darby, James Marsh, Jessica Window, Rupert Degas, Sarah Harper, Jane Lynch
Made in Australia, this enjoyable animated adventure centres on young Freddy Lupin (voiced by Ilai Swindells), the heir to a proud family line of werewolves. When his father, Flasheart (Jai Courtney), disappears after a terrible accident, Freddy is set to take his place as the clan’s “High Howler” when he comes of age. However, at his “wolfing” ceremony, instead of the hulking beast he’s dreamed of becoming, his lupine form actually turns out to be a tiny, not-at-all-ferocious poodle.
Freddy’s nightmare goes from bad to worse when two of his child relatives place a silver collar on him, trapping him in his dog form during daylight. In desperation, Freddy determines to rescue his reputation by retrieving the family’s mystic Moonstone, which he was partly responsible for losing in the first place. In doing so, he has to seek help from former doggy enemy Batty (Samara Weaving), while keeping one step ahead of ice-cream-man-turned-wolf-catcher Foxwell Cripp (Rhys Darby) and a mysterious evil scientist known as The Commander (Jane Lynch), who has her own nefarious plan.
Equating lycanthropy with puberty / coming-of-age is a time-honoured tradition in the werewolf genre, whether used for horror (Ginger Snaps) or comedy (Teen Wolf). 100% Wolf takes that idea and runs with it, allowing the visuals (Freddy has pink hair and fluffy pink feet) to supply the coming-out metaphor even if the script can’t quite work up the courage to underline it. There are a couple of cheats in that respect too – for example, it’s the bullying kids who dye Freddy’s fur pink, rather than him coming out that way himself.
As directed by Alexs Stadermann, the film’s animation might not be up to Pixar standard (especially when it comes to rendering fur) and it occasionally looks unfinished, but it’s colourful and fast-paced enough so that you don’t really notice. The voice cast are excellent, particularly Weaving, who gives Batty real emotional depth (her heart-breaking never-got-sold-as-a-puppy flashback is straight out of the Pixar playbook), and Darby, who gets in some amusing line deliveries as Foxwell.
The humour in the film is mostly decent, mixing visual and verbal gags. There might not be anything that will have you howling with laughter, but there’s enough to ensure a steady supply of amused grins. That said, there are a couple of jokes that, while admittedly quite funny, maybe aren’t appropriate for younger audiences, eg. a lot of urination jokes (“I’m markin’ here!”) and an extended gag that’s basically about indecent exposure.
There’s a certain chaotic energy to the film that actually works in its favour – for example, there are effectively three villains, which makes for a very busy, but exciting climax. Ultimately, the film misses the chance to be the inspiring coming-out film it could have been, but it comes close enough, with at least one scene guaranteed to push the right emotional buttons in that regard, even if it’s a truncated version of the scene the film deserved.
Either way, if the script stops short of coming right out with its explicit message, then not to worry, because the insanely catchy song that plays over the end credits does the job and then some:
Be free to go your own way,
Ignore what the haters might say,
Don’t ever feel like you don’t belong,
Because if you’re true to yourself then know you can’t go wrong.
Be proud to share your feelings,
Who knows who you might be healing,
You can be who you want to be,
If you be yourself.