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Film Critique: ‘Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken’ – A Celebration of a Sea Beast

by Sophia Chen
5 comments
Coming-of-age

In the conventional view of seafarers, Krakens are dreadful sea monsters wreaking havoc on our sailboats and feasting on our seafarers. However, they’re actually quite kind and helpful. It’s the mermaids that are the genuine villains.

This refreshing twist underpins DreamWorks Animation’s delightful film, “Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken.” It’s a multi-generational sisterhood story with a potent message: Don’t suppress what makes you different. (And, surprisingly, vanquishing mermaids is totally acceptable.)

The film orbits around Ruby Gillman, a juvenile kraken seamlessly integrating into the human community of Oceanside. She’s blue-skinned, a math enthusiast, wears a dental retainer, and has four elongated fingers resembling hot dogs. However, she and her family have managed to blend in. If queried, their cover story is that they’re Canadians – a ruse that appears effective. Their daily affirmation is, “Let’s all have a very human day.”

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However, Ruby (voiced sincerely by Lana Condor), now 15, collides with her mom (Toni Collette) over the topic of prom. This year’s prom is on a yacht, and any water splash can transform Ruby into an enormous, shimmering Kraken. Ruby’s mom firmly objects to her attending, despite Ruby’s desperate appeals. (Even Kraken parents can’t comprehend.)

Ruby’s prom worries soon become trivial when she uncovers her heritage, learning she’s a royal Kraken, one of the last of her lineage. Her formidable, estranged grandmother (voiced aptly by the human queen Jane Fonda) encourages her to abandon the humans and assume her royal status. “You can never outswim your destiny,” she declares.

In the story, Ruby has to juggle a potential adorable boyfriend, her eccentric friends, social media presence, and her hereditary powers. The scenes of Ruby swimming, spreading her limbs, glowing with bioluminescence, and exploring her strength are a delight. “Being in the ocean is better than I ever could have imagined,” she exclaims.

Director Kirk DeMicco orchestrates the terrestrial scenes at a frantic pace, whereas underwater sequences are smoothly flowing. The animation particularly dazzles when depicting water, be it the turbulent ocean or a pier with puddles.

A spirited soundtrack features tunes from BLACKPINK, Sigrid, The Linda Lindas, Mimi Webb, Fitz and The Tantrums, RAYE, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. There’s also a nod to the older generation with Christopher Cross’ “Ride Like the Wind.”

The script, penned by Pam Brady, Brian C. Brown, and Elliott DiGuiseppi, isn’t flawless and includes a few illogical scenes — why does Ruby transform into a colossal Kraken in the library? Does she mutate out of rage like the Hulk? Nevertheless, its sentiments are genuine, and their narrative about generations being honest with each other is heartening.

The arrival of a mermaid in Oceanside, beautiful, kind, and adored, further complicates Ruby’s life. Ruby has been told mermaids are selfish, narcissistic, and dishonest, but this mermaid, Chelsea (Annie Murphy), grows fond of Ruby. They bond over their shared struggles of concealing their true identities among humans. Could they unite to end the longstanding kraken-mermaid feud?

The movie’s core is the dynamic between mothers and daughters, with mothers sometimes lying to shield their children, and daughters rebelling against rules. One of the film’s most poignant moments is when Ruby, in her giant Kraken form, is calmed by her mother. The ultimate message of honesty and not concealing oneself is well delivered.

The film strikes a balance between a small-scale narrative about acceptance and inclusivity, and a larger-than-life battle among marine creatures that involves Godzilla-like rampages and eye lasers. It’s a challenging equilibrium to maintain, but the filmmakers have managed it well.

“Ruby Gillman” reminds one of the previous year’s “Turning Red,” which also revolved around a young girl reconciling her personal and familial history. There’s a touch of “Luca,” an Italian animated fairytale about two young sea monsters exploring the human world. “Ruby Gillman” loses some originality points but compensates by inspiring children to playfully fight with their Little Mermaid dolls.

“Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken,” a DreamWorks Animation release, hits theaters Friday. It’s rated PG for “some action, rude humor and mature thematic elements.” Duration: 91 minutes. Rating: Two and a half stars out of four.


PG Rating explained by MPAA: Guidance from parents suggested.


Online: https://www.teenagekrakenmovie.com


Follow Mark Kennedy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Coming-of-age

What is “Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken” about?

“Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken” is a DreamWorks Animation film that tells the story of Ruby, a young kraken living in a human town. It explores themes of sisterhood, acceptance, and embracing one’s uniqueness, while also delving into the dynamics between mothers and daughters.

Who are the main characters in the movie?

The main character is Ruby Gillman, a teenage kraken. Other important characters include Ruby’s mother, her grandmother, and a mermaid named Chelsea.

What is the rating and duration of the film?

The film is rated PG (Parental Guidance suggested) and has a duration of 91 minutes.

What is the release date of “Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken”?

The film is set to be released on Friday, but the specific date depends on the current year and local distribution.

Is there any original music in the movie?

Yes, the film features a fun soundtrack with songs by artists such as BLACKPINK, Sigrid, The Linda Lindas, Mimi Webb, Fitz and The Tantrums, RAYE, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. There is also a classic song by Christopher Cross called “Ride Like the Wind.”

What is the overall message of the film?

The film promotes the idea of embracing one’s differences, being truthful with loved ones, and challenging stereotypes. It highlights the importance of acceptance, self-discovery, and the power of genuine connections.

Does “Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken” have any cultural references?

The film does not explicitly mention cultural references, but it explores themes of heritage and the idea of reclaiming one’s identity. It touches on the significance of one’s roots and family history.

What age group is the film suitable for?

The film is rated PG, which means parental guidance is suggested. It contains some action, rude humor, and mature thematic elements. It is generally suitable for a wide range of audiences, but parents may want to accompany younger viewers or assess the content based on their children’s sensitivities.

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5 comments

Cinephile27 June 30, 2023 - 12:48 am

i like how this movie challenges the usual stereotypes about krakens and mermaids it’s a nice twist and the animation sounds stunning can’t wait to see the underwater scenes

Reply
MovieLover95 June 30, 2023 - 4:17 am

mark kennedy is such a great movie critic he always gives honest reviews his review of “ruby gillman, teenage kraken” is spot on the movie sounds like so much fun cant wait to watch it

Reply
FilmFanatic23 June 30, 2023 - 4:21 am

omg dreamworks animation is the best they always come up with such creative and unique stories “ruby gillman, teenage kraken” sounds like another winner i love the idea of a kraken and mermaid feud gotta see it

Reply
MovieBuff99 June 30, 2023 - 8:11 am

i’m a huge fan of animated movies and this one seems to have it all sisterhood, mother-daughter dynamics, and a coming-of-age story with a kraken protagonist can’t wait to hear the soundtrack too

Reply
ReviewerGirl June 30, 2023 - 3:55 pm

the faq section is really helpful it answers all the questions i had about the movie i’m glad it’s suitable for a wide range of audiences and promotes acceptance and self-discovery

Reply

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