September 27, 2023


2023 / 92 min
Review by Stinky the Destroyer😽

Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken is an earnest, congenial animated film that's fairly enjoyable in the moment (especially for kids), but ultimately lacks the creative spark and originality to be truly memorable. 

Conceptually derivative of Turning Red, the story centers around the title character, an insecure teenager living in the town of Oceanside. She has a small circle of friends and hopes to attend her school’s upcoming prom to be held onboard a ship. However, Ruby's overprotective mother strictly forbids her from going anywhere close to the ocean. Soon after, she learns why. When diving into the water to save her crush from drowning, Ruby turns into a giant Kraken.

The Gillman’s are secretly a family of Kraken who’ve left the sea, assuming a humanlike form in order to fit in (they still look like aquatic creatures, but simply tell folks they’re “from Canada”). However, being in the ocean transforms them back to their real selves. Ruby is initially horrified, but later meets her Kraken grandmother, Granmamah, a warrior queen who encourages her to embrace her true self. She’s also befriended by the most popular girl in school, Chelsea, who's secretly a mermaid and earns Ruby’s trust. But as Grandmamah explains, Kraken and mermaids are actually fierce enemies, which is ultimately what drives the plot during the second half. 

"Calamari? I love Calamari!"
Thematically, the film treads familiar ground - social awkwardness, family, trust, acceptance, embracing one’s heritage, etc. - sometimes playing like a checklist of positive messages we’ve seen in many other family films. While the animation itself is excellent, the character design leaves something to be desired. Human, Kraken or otherwise, everyone’s colorful, expressive and voiced by a good cast (especially Jane Fonda as Grandmamah), but probably not anything a kid would want on their lunchbox.

Still, Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken is certainly watchable, the narrative efficiently moving things along with a few clever bits thrown-in here and there (yes, there’s a “release the Kraken” joke). And while pretty predictable, right down to the obligatory pop music montages, it’s probably enough to amuse its intended audience a few times. 


FEATURETTES - Super Sea Girl Besties (a look at the characters); Meet the Gillman Cast and The Kraken Crew: Meet the Humans Behind the Gillmans (both feature the voice actors); Prom Stories (featuring the cast); The Kraken: Myth or Monster (brief history of the mythical monster); 

ACTIVITIES - Make Your Own Aquarium; Oceanside Drawing Guide.

AUDIO COMMENTARY - By directors Kirk DeMicco & Faryn Pearl, producer Kelly Cooney Cilella, animator Carlos Fernandez Puertolas and cinematographer Jon Gutman.



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