Le Coq de St-Victor [The Rooster of St-Victor] aka Rooster Doodle-doo (2014)

(On Cable TV, November 2015)  A crucial aspect of resisting American cultural hegemony is the unwritten rule to be a bit kinder to our home-grown films, to be a bit more forgiving, to be a bit less heavy on the mockery.  It’s in that spirit that I recognize Le Coq de St-Victor, a computer-animated film set in a comfortably kiddified vision of long-ago rural Quebec, focusing on a village in which a zealous rooster wakes everyone up and spurs the village to admirable productivity.  When the citizen rebel and the rooster is sent away, productivity falls and economic ruin follows.  Frankly, I’m not sure if it’s worthwhile to map reactionary cultural values (“Sloth leads to sin!  Salvation can only be attained by getting up early and working hard!”) onto a film definitely made for kids, but as an adult it’s hard to see the film’s strange church-free version of a small Quebec village without trying to understand which points the script is trying to make.  The relative marginalization of female characters is a missed opportunity, and the film simply feels quite a bit duller, longer and blunter than it could have been.  The visual style of Le Coq de St-Victor is a bizarre and not entirely successful blend of what looks like 3D animation with hand-drawn 2D elements –I’m guessing that it’s a more cost-efficient way to complete a project, but the visual feel is markedly more primitive than contemporary animated films.  It does have a bit of charm and the cute-factor isn’t to be dismissed, as is a surprisingly detailed explanation of the integrated economy of the village.  (I also regret being forced to see it in its dubbed English version, as I suspect that the original French soundtrack had quite a bit more authenticity to it.)  Still, there remains a sense that Le Coq de St-Victor doesn’t manage to be as good as it could have been, even considering the limited budget and means at its disposal.  The script could have been improved, and the rest would have followed.  I’m not entirely looking forward to seeing this film on almost-continuous loop for the next few years, as it’s likely to remain one of the few examples of made-in-Canada animated films to meet Can-Con requirements for TV channels.

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