Film

Duck out of seeing “Duck, Duck Goose”

Duck, Duck Goose (2018) is a computer-animated family-comedy co-produced by America and China.

Although it was originally intended to be released in theaters in the United States, Duck, Duck Goose only made it to theaters in China. It was pulled from the U.S. release schedule and was made available on Netflix instead. No reason has been given for this but the decision was probably for the better.

This movie is the most generic, childish slop imaginable. Nothing makes it stand out from the hundreds of others animated anthro-family road trip comedy films. There’s no charm. No unique sense of humor. No outstanding message. No inspiring characters. Just a very unoriginal movie.

At least the fart jokes are mainly relegated to one scene. It was almost unfortunate, considering that it was one of the funnier scenes in the movie.

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The film focuses on Peng, a goose who gets separated from his migrating flock after he breaks his wing. He is then forced to travel with two young ducklings, Chi and Chao, down south for the winter. There’s also a cat/leopard antagonist who doesn’t really play a big role in the plot and whose name I can’t remember.

One would think the film would be heavily inspired by Chinese culture and story tropes considering its setting and production history. But other than the names of about half the characters, a few jokes, the scenery and a quick appearance by the Great Wall of China, this film could have been set anywhere.

It only gets further confusing when English-speaking, English named characters are introduced later in the plot. What part of this film necessitates having a British-accented hen named Edna? Within this world that the film has created, how does this make any kind of sense?

Look. I understand that it’s a kids’ movie…But the world still needs to follow a logical and cohesive set of rules. I promise you, American kids aren’t going to freak out that there aren’t any names they recognize even. Seriously.

My other issue is that the antagonist had a lot of potential; he had an interesting design albeit a somewhat offensive split personality quirk that is played for laughs. But, the film does little with him. The trio aren’t aware that he’s stalking them for a good part of the film, and they only confront each other twice.

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I don’t feel any of the suspense.

The cat doesn’t even have any connection to the ultimate “reveal” regarding the ducklings’ ultimate destination. Once or twice during the movie, we are reminded that the siblings and their flock were headed to Pleasant Valley. We don’t get much information regarding it but it’s assume that it’s a place full of ponds, bread crumbs and other duckling delights. In real life? It’s a restaurant. One that specializes in duckling.

(Am I horrible person to believe that the food looks pretty good? Duck is delicious)

There’s very little foreshadowing leading up to this reveal, but it’s pretty obvious to me. And it also feels like it goes against the conventional three-act structure of a movie. In a typical film of this genre, I’d expect the plot to follow this line of logic: Peng would find out the truth of “Pleasant Valley,” likely from the villain, ahead of the ducklings and actively try to prevent them from getting there. The ducklings would take this as an act of betrayal, due to a lack of communication. Perhaps, prior to that point, the three would have gotten into some kind of disagreement with this incident being the final straw. Then Peng would regain their trust by rescuing them.

Instead, the betrayal comes after Peng attempts to re-join his flock, pretty much abandoning the children. It doesn’t place him in a good light at all.

Now, this could still work if he found out the truth about Pleasant Valley far enough ahead of time, and they feel betrayed that they didn’t warn him. But that isn’t the case. It makes the plot feel rushed. And since the villainous cat isn’t connected to the restaurant, it makes the film feel kind of disconnected.

I wouldn’t be surprised if some scenes were cut from the movie prior to its release especially considering the film’s sudden switch from theaters to Netflix. Unfortunately, the film didn’t come with a Chinese dub with English subtitles on Netflix, so I can’t tell if something got lost in translation. Or if there was a Chinese dub at all considering the high profile actors they got for the movie.

The voice acting itself was fine. Nothing special. The only thing that was notable was the weirdly atrocious accent of the cranes. I can’t tell what kind of accent its supposed to be. I assume it’s supposed to be some kind of idiot/hick accent considering their role in the film, but it’s pretty incomprehensible for me.

It think it may be some kind of Welsh accent or something similar, which makes even less sense since everyone else has American accents except the chickens who have British accents. And once again, the film takes place in China. So it doesn’t make sense either way.

On another note, all the humans speak Chinese but the movie doesn’t provide subtitles.

They don’t play any kind of important role, so the subtitles aren’t necessary but it still seems like an odd choice.

However, the movie is well animated. The character designs aren’t particularly memorable, but they’re serviceable. The female characters aren’t weirdly sexualized or give faux-breasts. They all look like the animals they’re supposed to be. Everything moves nicely. The backgrounds and landscapes are very nice. They manage to stay within the nice range between hyper-realistic and “cartoony,” so that they match the style of the characters.

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Simply put, there really isn’t particularly memorable about this movie; good or bad. If you need a distraction for the kids, this one works just as well as any other.

Otherwise, I just wouldn’t bother.

And that’s the scoop!

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Overall Score: 4/10

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Info

Rating: PG

Length: 1 hr 32 minu

Available: Netflix

Director: Chris Jenkins

Producers: Penney Finkelman Cox, Sandra Rabins

Writers: Rob Muir, Chris Jenkins, Scott Atkinson, Tegan West

Voice Actors: Jim Gaffigan, Zendaya, Lance Lim, Greg Proops.

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