Though the main character in this animated Danish comedy is in seventh grade, Terkel in Trouble is geared towards an older audience. This film about an unhappy childhood is amusingly full of odd behavior, violence, profanity and a decapitation or two. The story is based on characters created by stand-up comedian Anders Matthesen that are well known in Europe. The directors, Kresten Vestbjerg Andersen, Randolph Kret and Thorbjørn Christoffersen said that the style of the film was inspired by The Muppet Show, The Simpsons and South Park, but Terkel has its own singular look. If word of mouth is given enough time to build, the subtitled theatrical version has the potential to be a cult favorite. The DVD version, featuring extra footage, will be dubbed into English and could widen the audience.
The bizarreness starts at the beginning with scenes from Terkel's home life. His parents are constantly arguing: his mother (Kim Mattheson) smokes continually at the breakfast table, even dropping ashes in his cereal bowl, while his mostly silent father rarely peeks his face out from behind his newspaper. Terkel can't stand his little sister, Rita, who regularly falls down steps or gets her face slammed in doors without much concern from others in the household. His best friend, Jason (Mattheson), carries an iron pipe in his pocket, because "you never know when you're gonna need an iron pipe." Jason's words turn out to be prophetic for Terkel.
Two schoolmates, Sten and Saki (both voiced by Mattheson), incessantly bully Terkel. The threat of injury is present on every level, but so is vengefulness. The twisted humor of the film continues with the sadistic treatment of the desensitized young children who cheer when they hear their teacher "didn't make it" through an accident.
The animated characters have a unique look: oversized heads with large eyes and long stretching arms. The visual imagination extends into the varied backgrounds, both in the everyday surroundings and the fantasy scenes.
Anders Matthesen creates a variety of distinctive voices for characters including Terkel, Jason and Saki, ably capturing the intense and confused emotions of childhood. The other voice cast members are also good choices. Offbeat characters include Uncle Stewart who beats Terkel's tormenters and Gunnar, the new teacher with a possum on his shoulder.
Outrageous humor keeps the film entertaining and VERY politically incorrect, as the children's experiences grow more extreme. After Terkel spurns a girl nicknamed Fat Doris her despair ends with spurted blood. After a nightmare in which his head is cut off Terkel sees a threatening message written on his bedroom wall. A class camping trip becomes dangerous. Terkel in Trouble remains unconventional and a welcome change from the typical animated film about children. Fake bloopers are an added bonus.
Distributor: Indican Pictures
Cast: Anders Matthesen, Randolph Kret, Mike Pearson and Marlise Garba Wright
Directors: Kresten Vestbjerg Andersen, Randolph Kret, Thorbjørn Christoffersen
Screenwriter: Mette Heeno
Producers: Thomas Heinesen and Trine Heidagaard
Genre: Animation/Comedy; Danish-language, subtitled
Running time: 77 min
Release date: October 15 Chicago/Dalla