TRICK OR TREATERS
Family | TV-G | 2007 | 1h 14m ・ NETFLIX
When children’s book author Tomi Ungerer released her tale Die drei Räuber (The Three Robbers) onto the shelves of German bookstores in 1961, it soon became a hit that spurred its first animated adaptation in 1972, albeit a short 6-minute piece. However more recently the classic story got the telling it deserved with a feature-length film in 2007, and to possibly align itself more closely to the tale’s Halloween connections, it underwent a title change in some markets, going by the name Trick or Treaters.
It’s not a movie that immediately stands out, but like the saying goes: “you can’t judge a book by its cover”, the same rule applies to Trick or Treaters. This movie is truly a unique gem that shouldn’t be dismissed as a cheap kids flick.
The movie opens with newly orphaned Tiffany at her mother’s funeral, and with her father having past earlier, she is pushed into a carriage to be sent to an orphanage. However the only route is through the dark woods that are known to be the playing ground for a gang of three robbers who of course don’t miss this opportunity to attack in hopes to find treasures hidden within the carriage. With only Tiffany and her small suitcase inside, the robbers leave in disappointment. Tiffany, who clearly is not happy about her orphanage destination, has a bold and fearless trick up her sleeves and jumps on an opportunity to keep her out of the hands of the evil “Miss Auntie” that awaits her at the orphanage.
She convinces the three robbers to kidnap her under the pretense that her father is a wealthy man in India, and if they take her with them, he would surely send over a hefty ransom of gold. While Tiffany playfully works to tap into the kinder side of the three robbers, introducing creativity and color into their lives, we get a glimpse into the world she has so far escaped at the orphanage.
The evil Miss Auntie forces the children to slave in the fields, picking beats that become the fuel to her hidden sweet tooth. Two of the orphans manage to break out into in the woods, and are soon met by Tiffany before collectively working on a scheme to overthrow Miss Auntie. To do so though, they will need the help of the three robbers who must put aside their selfishness and greed to save the children.
I was originally among the crowd that easily skipped by this movie while browsing through the countless selections available on Netflix, but perhaps it was Halloween approaching that put me in the spirit to give Trick or Treaters a try, and while my expectations going into the movie were low, the charm of the movie quickly shifted my attitude.
Trick or Treaters isn’t just another bland children’s movie that makes parents want to regret ever introducing the film to their kids. The storyline is quite charming actually and plays into the structure of classic German folklore like the Grimms Brothers tales. And while this is no Cinderella or Snow White, at times it does comes pretty close.
What really stands out in this movie are the visuals. The animation style is a real piece of art, and even if you don’t think you can dig into your inner child to enjoy the story, these stunning visuals might still make Trick or Treaters worth a watch. Most of today’s animated films are being made to look less animated and more lifelike, but this movie in a way pays tribute to the days of the hand-drawn animation classics but with such a unique style of its own. In the various scenes that take place in the Robber’s hideout, it becomes clear just how much thought went into the visual display of this film.
Now an animated film wouldn’t be complete without a song or two, and while Trick or Treaters isn’t as musical as a Disney production, the three robbers do have a bit of a theme song that repeatedly creeps up. It is a catchy little tune that will probably get stuck in your head, but it is fun and I was totally okay with it sticking with me for a few short days.
At its core though, Trick or Treaters is a film for kids with a sprinkling of humor adults will also catch on to… a move that has become quite common in today’s animated films. Parents trying to teach their children the danger of walking off with strangers may want to be prepared to have a little talk with their kids after this film though, as the main storyline does revolve around Tiffany forcing herself to be taken home by three mysterious strangers. Some of the scenes at the orphanage may also be a bit on the scary side for some kids as the visuals can be a bit grim from time to time, but then again what kids movie doesn’t?
Overall this is a fun movie that can be enjoyed by the whole family, and it creatively tells the story behind Halloween’s tricks, treats and costumes. So don’t be afraid to treat yourself to this Halloween tale… it’s no trick.
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