Animation is a medium that all people can enjoy. We should never relegate the medium as something just ‘for children’. With though, there are certainly animation works that exist for children. Those works will have adults wanting to slowly close their eyes and tune things out. One of those examples include Baby Shark. If I have to hear that song ever again in my entire life it won’t be soon enough.
In the case of Katak, the Brave Beluga it is unfortunately the latter. The animation is gorgeous. Its aesthetic is in the vein of a DreamWorks presentation while borrowing ideas and stylings from The Little Mermaid and Finding Nemo. Surely there are more these are just the most obvious. But the overarching story of the film is more a Thomas the Tank Engine/Brave Little Toaster story that it solely aims for a much younger audience than something that can work for both adults and children.
Christine Dallaire-Dupont and Nicola Lemay carefully direct Katak, the Brave Beluga. Their choices are certainly gorgeous to look at and evoke emotional responses from some genuinely awe dropping animation and creation. Even the script by Andree Lambert at moments will evoke an emotional impact and response from its more mature audience. But the second they hit that emotional destination, it immediately detours to become much lighter and aimed at a much younger audience than those most likely watching it.
Katak, voiced by Alexandre Bacon, is a beluga whale, who unlike his peers has not yet turned white. As it is with belugas, at least according to the movie, once you turn white you can leave your mother and be on your own, but when grey you’re still far too young. This leads to him being tormented by one of his peers.
The movie wants to tell a story of bullying. But it quickly shifts gears as one of the whale’s is pregnant and gives birth. Sadly, the babies don’t make it. This sends Katak’s grandmother into a depression so deep that she loses the will to live. Katak wants to ensure that his grandmother continues to fight. To do so, he decides to take it upon himself to travel to the Great North to find his grandfather. As legend has it, his grandfather fought and defeated a Killer Whale, Jack Knife. He wants find his grandfather and return him home to his grandmother and ensure his family stays alive.
And while that does sound like a story that is certainly geared towards an adult audience, anytime the story gets emotionally charged and heavy it immediately shifts to something lighter and potentially silly. Katak gets bullied, a friend cheers him up and that’s the scene. Katak gets into some deeper waters that he’s comfortable with, escapes, befriends a creature and has their own adventure, and so forth and so forth. Refusing to stick to the emotional gravitas it wants to tell, it loses the gravity it needs to stay grounded. While this may be effective for children dealing with bullying, loss, and trying to make friends, it certainly leaves a lot for a post preschool audience to desire.
- Release Date: 2/24/2023