Higglety Pigglety Pop! or There Must Be More to Life (Directors: Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski): From the makers of Madame Tutli-Putli comes another innovative short film with a rhyming title. Based on a story by Maurice Sendak, this short (24 minute) film will be included on the Blu-ray DVD release of Where the Wild Things Are, coming out this Tuesday here in Canada.
The story concerns a terrier named Jennie (voiced by Meryl Streep) who senses that something is missing in her life, even though she leads a pampered existence. “There must be more life than having everything,” she says, and sets out to find adventure. When she applies for the job of leading lady at the World Mother Goose Theatre, she’s told she needs more experience. It soon arrives when she hitches a ride with a feline milkman (a milkcat?) and gets a job as a nurse to a baby who won’t eat.
I haven’t read Sendak’s story, but it seems he is taking some familiar fairytale elements and mixing them together with a rather modern heroine. Jennie is bored and spoiled and always hungry. Her rude behaviour and selfishness don’t lend themselves to the reader’s (or viewer’s) sympathy. The directors use a mixture of puppetry and live action to create a very unsettling atmosphere, and soon the action turns frantic, dark, and a bit scary. Certainly younger children might be pretty frightened by this. Unfortunately, the story failed to draw me in and the puppetry never seemed quite as impressive as the stop-motion work the same filmmakers used to great effect in Madame Tutli-Putli. In the end, the film succeeded in creeping me out but never really engaged me.