If you haven’t heard of Strange World coming to theaters from Disney Animation Studios, that’s okay. For some reason, this fantastic family adventure has been under the radar of promotions when it should be at the top. I had a chance to go to a Q&A with the writers/directors, animators, and more for the film so the Clade family has been on my mind for a while.
The masterminds behind Strange World are Director Don Hall (Big Hero 6) and co-director and writer Qui Nguyen (Raya the Last Dragon). Producing the film is Roy Conli who brought us some of Disney’s biggest hits. Along with listening to Don Hall and Qui Nguyen discuss the project. we also got to hear from Production Designer Mehrdad Isvandi, Head of Environments Sean Jenkins, Head of Animation Amy Smeed, as well as Justin Sklar.
The story of Strange World is inspired by Hall and Nguyen’s own journey as fathers and says that this film is a love letter to their children and their fathers.
SO WHAT IS STRANGE WORLD?
Strange World is an action/Adventure meets sci-fi animated family film that follows the Clade family. Who are the Clades? They are a family of explorers .consisting of Jaeger, Searcher, Ethen, Meridian, and of course their dog, Legend. Fun Fact: Legend is created by and named after Disney Animation Legend, Burny Mattinson.
Jaeger Clade, voiced by Dennis Quaid (The Parent Trap) is an adventurer through and through. When off finding new lands, Searcher, voiced by Jake Gyllenhaal, comes across a plant that he knows needs to bring back home. Jaeger disagrees and continues on by himself.
This plant is like Vibranium to Wakanda. So, when brought back to Avalonia it helps them enhance their village in every way bringing them to the future with flying cars, airplanes, and more. However, life doesn’t always stay perfect. The plants and crops begin dying. This is when Callisto, voiced by Lucy Liu (Charlie’s Angels) shows up asking for Searcher’s help to figure out what is killing their plant.
WHAT MAKES STRANGE WORLD SO GREAT?
First off, I love that Strange World is like a mix of Indiana Jones meets Osmosis Jones. I was entertained the entire time by the family dynamic, as well as the story itself. I think the characters are fantastic. When it comes to the family dynamics about legacy, keeping true to yourself, accepting others the way they are, healing generational trauma, as well as putting your loved ones before yourself this film has it all.
I love that you can actually feel the love and chemistry between Searcher and Meridan, voiced by Gabrielle Union (Cheaper by the Dozen). This is also the first Disney Animated film with an out and proud member of the LGBTQ+ community – Searcher and Meridan’s son, Ethan voiced by Jaboukie Young-White (Rap Sh*t). Both his parents are incredibly supportive. There is an adorable scene between him and his crush. There’s also an awkward parent scene involving Ethan and his crush that we can all relate to as well. Something else I found important when Jaeger finds out that his grandson is gay he doesn’t bat an eye. Instead, he gives him tips on how to make his crush fall in love with him.
THE WORLD BUILDING IS FANTASTIC
I knew the creatures of Strange World were going to be super cool, but seeing it all come together is incredible. The juxtaposition between the lush greens of Avalonia vs the strange color pallet of the new world is stunning. The creatures are familiar yet wildly different. I’m so glad we got Splat who is absolutely a hilarious and heartwarming character. I can’t wait to see the merch for him.
I honestly don’t have any standout negatives for the film. The runtime is just over 90 mins, and the pace of the film moves and never slags. The characters are well-developed and the plot is thought-provoking. I truly hope we get a sequel because I’d love to see what else this family is up to.
Strange World hits theaters on November 23, 2022! Make sure to check it out and comment to let me know your thoughts!