Monday, 11 February 2008

Cordell Barker "Strange Invaders"

Canadian Cordell Barker is best known by me for his classic The Cat Came Back - about which I have yet to write, come to think. However it is his 2002 Oscar nominated Strange Invaders that is today's focus. Roger and Doris desire a baby and urgently attend to the matter: "Watch my back!" In the meantime a meteorite appears in a starry sky and lands plum in the couple's living room. And glory be, the pair have a child albeit one with feet on fire and upside down. The mayhem continues as the strange invader turns the house upside down, inside out and chaos rules. With knowing winks towards Steven Spielberg and even John Wyndham's The Midwich Cuckoos (though with laughs!) the action and humour come thick and fast. The pace of the 2D animation is at times frantic. Based on the real life changes that occurred when Cordell's life altered dramatically with the arrival of three sons ("three evil boys") in the 1990s, Strange Invaders is a salutory lesson for anyone contemplating parenthood. (My own home has never been the same since.) But this is a child who can eat you out of house and home, plate, goldfish, cat food; who plays in the toilet pan whilst you're in the bath; and there's one gorgeous sequence when Doris can stand it no more and is transported down from the bedroom to the car and escape. Or is it? Gags come thick and fast, frame by frame, all drawn beautifully and there's inventiveness aplenty with "camera" angles looking down on the moonlit village, up at the sky and full on as Roger screams in full throated ease at the sheer horror of it all. The voices are provided by Cordell himself and Jennifer Torrance as Doris, whilst there is a suitably stirring musical score by Luc Préfontaine. Such a talent as Cordell is obviously in demand and, not in any way surprisingly, he was snapped up by that Canadian stable of thoroughbreds, Pascal Blais Animation. Cordell did not appear from out of the sky; prior to his work on his two Oscar nominated movies he enjoyed a successful career in television commercials and on Sesame Street. The DVD can be purchased from the remarkable NFB. Finally, the professional in me feels compelled to point to the admirable Teachers' Guide.

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