Who would have thought that a French stop motion film would pack real emotional heft?
French Orphans (Not Madeline)
My Life as a Zucchini centers around a young boy named Zucchini, this nickname given by his abusive and alcoholic mother. One day, Zucchini had an idea to stack his mother’s beer cans in his attic bedroom. He was able to stack the cans to a great height, but he accidentally tripped and caused the whole stack to fall, causing a ruckus and catching his mother’s attention. Fearing his mother’s punishment, he shuts the attic door on his mother’s face as she reached the top of the attic ladder, causing his mother to fall down the ladder and die.
Zucchini promptly gets sent to an orphanage. The movie follows Zucchini as he adjusts to his new life in the orphanage, as well as with the other orphans that were there before him.
Is It Just for Kids?
The stop motion employed by the movie is a breath of fresh air – I’m pretty sure that everyone, regardless of age, would enjoy and appreciate it. The color palette and cutesy factor of the movie make it seem that the movie is strictly for kids, but don’t let those fool you. The core themes of the movie are definitely not light-hearted. Each one of the kids in the orphanage comes from a background of abuse and neglect, and each has found a refuge in said orphanage. The movie takes its time in showing how their unfortunate pasts have affected the orphans in their everyday life and mannerisms.
The story is simple enough, and there aren’t really any twists. This doesn’t mean that it’s boring, however. The stars of the movie are the orphans – in the span of the 66-minute-long movie, you can’t help but care for each one of them. They are fleshed out really well as loveable yet realistic characters.
One character of note is the redhead Simon. He’s the self-proclaimed leader of the orphans and initially a bully to the newly orphaned Zucchini. He, however, undergoes a complete 180 when he learns of Zucchini’s situation. Simon opens up to Zucchini about his own history, and the two eventually become great friends.
But be mindful – there are some jokes in the movie that are definitely adult in nature, dealing with juvenile perception of adult ideas. These will probably fly over the younger viewers, but be prepared nonetheless to explain to your kid what the movie meant if you’re with your kid.
Who Should Watch?
My Life as a Zucchini is simply a great movie that I recommend for everyone to watch. If you’re averse to animated films, watch it for the great characters. If you’re averse to simple plots, watch it for the great animation. Clocking in at 66 minutes, it wouldn’t take a whole bunch of your time. There really is no excuse not to watch this if you’re a lover of movies.
The movie garnered critical acclaim when it was released. It was nominated for best animated film at the recent Oscars, and was shortlisted for best foreign language film.
My Life as a Zucchini sits at a perfect 100% on RottenTomatoes, so you really know it’s something.