'The Hero of Color City': Film Review

Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures
The colors pop, even if the story and characters don't

A child's crayons come to colorful life in this animated adventure

To its credit, The Hero of Color City is nothing if not colorful. The bright hues fairly pop off the screen in Frank Gladstone’s computer-animated feature squarely aimed at the very small fry, specifically the pre-school/kindergarten set. And while those infant attention spans will surely be diverted by the lively goings-on, their parents and babysitters may want to bring along a Kindle to keep themselves otherwise occupied. Despite its estimable voice cast, including Christina Ricci, Craig Ferguson, Rosie Perez, Wayne Brady and Owen Wilson, this children’s film receiving a limited theatrical release will find its most useful place on DVD during long car trips.

Written by no less than five screenwriters — the script meetings must have been a hoot — the story concerns the crayons owned by six-year-old Ben. Every night after he falls asleep, they go through a secret portal in their magical crayon box to Color City, where they get to unwind after a long day and replenish their hues thanks to an enchanted rainbow and waterfall.

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One night the timid Yellow (Ricci) is accidentally stranded in Ben’s room, where she encounters two unfinished drawings desperately in need of some color lest they be unceremoniously disposed of. They follow Yellow to Color City, where they encounter a variety of yes, colorful, types and proceed to make trouble.

More than a little reminiscent of the Toy Story series, the film leans heavily in puns, most of which will be lost on their target audience; caricatures of such figures as Jerry Lewis’ Nutty Professor (ditto); and bouncy, message-laden songs like “It’s Better With Our Friends.” The voice talents add little to the proceedings, although there’s at least an absence of the sort of product placement that afflicts so many animated efforts.

It’s all pleasant and forgettable, save for the public service announcement by the crayon characters during the end credits touting the virtues of recycled crayons and even providing a website address for further information. By then, however, anyone watching who’s old enough to use a computer will already be fast asleep.


Production: Exodus Film Group, Toonz Entertainment

Cast: Christina Ricci, Rosie Perez, Wayne Brady, Craig Ferguson, Owen WilsonJessica Capshaw, Sean Astin

Director: Frank Gladstone

Screenwriters: J.P. McCormick, Rick Raczelowski, Jess Kedward, Kirsty Pearl, Evan Spiliotopoulos

Producers: John Eraklis, Max Howard

Executive producers: P. Jayakumar, Sandy Stone

Production designer: Philip A. Cruden

Editor: Josh Gladstone

Composers: Zoe Poledouris-Roche, Angel Roche Jr.

Rated G, 77 min.