Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart is a 2014 French animated fantasy movie directed by Stephane Berla and it tells the story of a boy who, thanks to his clock for a heart, has to never experience love in order to prevent death.
This is an extremely flawed movie which is a shame because it has a couple of strengths which are really fantastic. First off, the story. It is unfortunately too reminiscent of ‘Pinocchio’ in its concept and somewhat execution. It never feels as fresh as it should have been. However, what makes it interesting is its tone which is very mature and even dark at times and certainly not for children. And the romance is solid, if never as emotional as was necessary. But the mature tone helps this movie a lot for sure making it quite watchable for adults.
As for the characters, they are okay, but never as interesting or as well developed as the script demanded. The acting is good and the characters are definitely not thin, but they are also not particularly well developed as well which is really troublesome. But what is great is its wide plethora of different and unique supporting characters helping the world-building in the process as well.
The animation is by far the movie’s biggest strength. It is way too reminiscent of the style of Tim Burton, especially in the character design, which means it is never particularly fresh, but it is remarkable nonetheless because it is very stylish with evident attention to detail and great world-building and memorable imagery. I particularly loved the different styles that went into production, especially during the singing sequences as those were the finest here. The colors are also great and it very well uses its dark scenery and color palette creating the dark mood which fits perfectly within this dark world, story and mature tone.
What hurts the picture the most besides so-so characterization and unoriginal plot is certainly the music which is uninspired and quite frankly bland and dull. The songs here are so instantly forgettable and unremarkable that it really starts to bother you quickly because they get much of the running time which was a very unfortunate choice. It somehow never belonged to this world as well and the tunes are never catchy or memorable. They should have gotten rid of them for sure and the movie would have been much better.
It is technically a splendid film. The directing is solid as is the voice acting. The pacing is okay and the tone is excellent of course along with the memorable imagery and artistic animation which are the highlights. It is visually great, but emotionally it is quite shallow and distant which is extremely problematic given the film’s story which demanded much emotion. The heart is missing here and one of the major reasons why I never connected with the movie’s characters.
Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart has excellent mature tone and dark feel, it is well made and above all visually stunning with terrific imagery and outstanding, artistic and very stylish animation, but that animation is also too reminiscent to the style of Tim Burton, especially in the character design, the characterization is so-so, the movie is emotionally distant, the plot is similar to Pinocchio’s sometimes too much and the songs are very bland and forgettable. It is an interesting experience, but unfortunately a very flawed movie which is a shame because it had a lot of potential.