The Hero of Color City

Posted by Joel Copling on October 6, 2014

The stakes in director Frank Gladstone's "The Hero of Color City" are almost entirely imaginary, and that's before they become inert. It's good to get that important bit of information out of the way before digging into just why that is, because it further supports the theory that this is a movie that need not exist. It borrows liberally from the "Toy Story" formula, recounting a kid's-movie tale of animated inaminate objects that come to life when their single-digit owner goes to sleep, yet not even the internal logic of the screenplay (which was written by five people, none of whom is likely to have done anything of note to write this movie) is up to par with one's everyday toddler-aimed cartoon program, and the central conflict is resolved in a matter of minutes. Why, then, am I engaging it on an intellectual level? Because that is what I am prompted to do when something this dim-witted comes along.

The boy in question is Ben (voice of E.G. Daily, who also voices his mother), upon whose drifting off to sleep his Crayons come to life and travel down a garish slide (the only truly impressive showcase of animation in a film full of blockish character designs and poor mouth-to-voice movement) to Color City. I should pause to note, however, the implication that Ben's box of Color City Crayons is the only entrance into Color City, which implies that either his room is actually a portal to another dimension or he is the only owner of this particular brand of Crayons in the world. Anyway, the Crayons are a bluntly defined bunch, and our makeshift lead character is Yellow (voice of Christina Ricci), who has doubts about her identity among the rest of the Crayons, which include the likes of the sassy Red (voice of Rosie Perez), the headstrong blue (voice of Wayne Brady), and the intelligent Green (voice of Jess Harnell), though perhaps the best of them is the apathetic Black (voice of David Kaye).

When two unfinished drawings--a lumbering giant named King Scrawl (voice of Kaye again) and his flying companion Nat (voice of Craig Ferguson)--follow the box of Crayons into Color City looking for color, the very livelihood and existence of the Crayons and their distinctive color will vanish, according to the eccentric Professor Heliotrope (voice of Jeremy Guskin, who also voices the lonely White Crayon). Thus, "The Hero of Color City" settles into an irritating formula of the box of Crayons traveling to a Colorfall, in front of which Nat and King Scrawl have settled themselves, that will restore them of their hue and responding in wearyingly repetitive ways to the circumstances in which they find themselves. There is no one truly to rally behind, the world in which these crayons live is strangely insular, there are songs of dubious quality (Only the choruses of each remotely work), and the imagination on display is distressingly low for a movie that is about Crayons and part of whose message is that one must occasionally color outside the lines.

Film Information

Featuring the voices of Christina Ricci (Yellow), Rosie Perez (Red), Wayne Brady (Blue), Tom Lowell (Brown), Jess Harnell (Green), David Kaye (Black/King Scrawl), Jeremy Guskin (Orange/White/Professor Heliotrope), Craig Ferguson (Nat), Zoe Bright (Madame Pink/Opera Singer), Owen Wilson (Ricky), Jessica Capshaw (Duck), Sean Astin (Bumble Bee), and Josh Gladstone (Cow).

Directed by Frank Gladstone and written by Jess Kedward, J.P. McCormick, Kristy Peart, Rich Raczelowski, and Evan Spiliotopoulos.

Rated G.

77 minutes.

Released in select cities on October 3, 2014.