Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

"Taking the hand-drawn style from the original books, the animation is spare and has an engaging childlike quality."

Danish illustrator and writer Kim Fupz Aakeson adapts his children's book series about a mischievous boy (voiced by Luke Murray in the English language version) and his friends for the big screen with the help of writer/director Dorte Bengston and enough co-writers to fill a school room.

Taking the hand-drawn style from the original books, the animation is spare and has an engaging childlike quality, with Vitello's hair and cheeks little more than cheeky scribbles. This is fitting for a film that takes the child's eye view of life, with reactions deliberately skewed to Vitello's perspective.

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Chief among his preoccupations is his absent dad. With mum unwilling to say much about his origins and only torn photos to work from, the youngster sets out to construct an imagined dad of his own. This overall quest takes place at the same time as his mum is embarking on a potential new relationship with one of their neighbours, Gregors (John-Paul Hurley), and is padded out by a series of scrapes with his young pals (Doon Mackichan, Michael Basham, Brandon Boyd) and encounters with new girl on the block Kamma (Mimi Robertson).

Vitello is a slightly flawed leader of the gang and all the better for it, with his everyday dilemmas - including a lost cat and some backwards cycling - proving a pleasant change from much of the animation that rolls out of Hollywood. Vitello's actions are seen to have consequences, so that parts of the film also offer a cautionary note, albeit told through comedy. Co-produced in Scotland, the English language version of the script has been well translated to fit the cadence of the children's Scottish accents.

Despite the film's overall arc, Bengtson can't quite shake the episodic nature of the books the stories have come from, so there is a feeling of watching a TV series without the credits rather than a fully fledged feature. There is plenty to enjoy, however, not least the impish Vitello, whose single parent story will doubtless strike a welcome chord with many kids who live with just one parent and who rarely get the chance to see their life and anxieties depicted and worked through on screen.

Reviewed on: 11 Jul 2018
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A young boy goes in search of his dad.

Director: Dorte Bengtson

Writer: Kim Fupz Aakeson, Dorte Bengtson, Peder Bille, Mariann Sofiasdóttir, Andrea Winding, Kathrine Kastholm Vimpel, Ida Mule Scott, Emma Tybirk Le Marc, Line Lea Kunø Poulsen, Paul McNeice

Starring: English version voiced by, Doon Mackichan, Michael Basham, Brandon Boyd, Mimi Robertson, John-Paul Hurley

Year: 2018

Runtime: 72 minutes

Country: Denmark, UK


EIFF 2018

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