For the first 20 minutes or so, I was really enjoying Nicola Lemay’s Canadian family film Felix and the Treasure of Morgäa. The animation popped off the screen, the writing and visual gags were amusing, and the story was nesting in a promising adventure-fantasy element. Even the obligatory cute animals were making me laugh. I was excited to finally have an animated children’s movie ready to recommend to families.
The story begins very quickly with intrepid 12-year-old Felix (voiced by Arthur’s Buster Baxter, Daniel Brochu) taking advantage of time away from his overprotective mother. The moment she’s out the door towards a vacation, he campaigns for an adventure to friendly, retired fisherman Old Tom (voiced by Vlasta Vrana). The mission: to find Felix’s dad who has been hopelessly lost at sea. Similar to the dynamic audiences experienced in Up, the friendly relationship between Old Tom and Felix drives the heart and humour of the story – at least, during the first act – and there’s a sweet sincerity that’s always alive during their conversations.
However, while our heroes are at sea, Felix and the Treasure of Morgäa becomes preoccupied by other characters. We receive random scenes of a flashy, futuristic-looking community featuring elite people we’ve never seen before, celebrating a new advancement in “something” that we later find out is an icky spin on the fountain of youth. These jarring scenes slam into the movie so hard, it interrupts the flow of the story and the film never recovers. When we find out the community plays a bigger role in Felix’s travels, we’re discouraged even more as Felix and Old Tom are removed from the open sea and placed within the dank caverns of the secret commune.
We occasionally check in with Mom who is trying to have a relaxing cruise. While, meanwhile back at Felix’s house, his aunt looks after Felix’s baby sister (both voiced by Holly Gauthier-Frankel, another former voice of Arthur) while an obnoxious rich hipster from “the big city” (voiced by Richard M. Dumont) tries to buy the house. These tangents are meandering and dreadfully unfunny, especially the hipster scenes that satirize “big city” egos and the housing market. Call me old fashioned, but I think young kids are more interested in adventure and seeing cute animals than hearing digs at conceited city folk.
As Felix and the Treasure of Morgäa became more muddled, the more my heart sank. Alas, my once hearty recommendation was now sinking like a rock towards the bottom of the sea.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie