Free Jimmy

Year: 2006
Production Co: AnimagicNet A/S
Director: Christopher Nielsen
Writer: Christopher Nielsen/Simon Pegg (English screenplay)
Cast: Woody Harrelson, Simon Pegg, Kyle MachLachlan, Samantha Morton, Jim Broadbent

We all know the economics of movies means anything made outside Hollywood has the chance to be much edgier with profanity, sex or violence than the stuff that costs hundreds of millions and must therefore tone things down to play to the widest possible audience.

But Norway's first computer animated film keeps things nasty as various groups of misfits and crooks try to hunt down a crack-addicted elephant across the windswept countryside.

Redubbed in English, it tells the story of a bunch of petty crims and the old friend who comes back into their life promising easy money working for a shady Russian circus. All they have to do is take care of the star elephant Jimmy by feeding him uppers and downers according to his performance schedules.

But a group of only slightly competent animal liberationists release Jimmy and the race is on to recapture him, especially as he has a quantity of heroin sewed into his flank. With scary Lapland mafia goons and an unhinged Scottish big game hunter in pursuit, Jimmy is suddenly the subject of a very intense race.

The laughs don't come thick and fast, but the characterisations are good - there's no strict protagonist and everyone seems to be a bad guy to some degree. There's a liberal amount of blood and violence, at least one scene of computer animated sex, and the animation and cinematography have a style all their own.

It's a very black comedy that borders on tragedy with the themes about how we treat the natural world for our own gain (and the lack of a storybook ending), but the message won't hit you until much later.

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