Review: ‘Nickellennium’

Nickelodeon proves beyond a doubt that kids do indeed say the darnedest things with its 24-hour commercial-free documentary "Nickellennium," airing all day Jan. 1. Judging from the clip reel provided for review, we're in pretty good hands with these children as our future.

Nickelodeon proves beyond a doubt that kids do indeed say the darnedest things with its 24-hour commercial-free documentary “Nickellennium,” airing all day Jan. 1. Judging from the clip reel provided for review, we’re in pretty good hands with these children as our future.

This global event, featuring print and Internet tie-ins, is the brainchild of Nickelodeon president Herb Scannell. But it’s brought thoughtfully to life by helmer Linda Schaffer, who directed “Homeward Bound” for AMC and “American Dreamers” for TNT. In it, kids discuss a wide range of subjects, including their predictions for the new millennium. Docu is quite entertaining, although at times a bit pandering (there is 24 hours of this stuff). Whether it’s worth nonstop viewing depends on how intensely you are celebrating the new year.

Schaffer should be commended for artfully tackling a project this big in scope and for representing as many as 10,000 children from around the globe.

Although some of the interviews occur in studios and in staged segments, Schaffer’s real skills are evident in the many “on the street” discussions, where almost all of the subjects are at ease with the camera, no matter what the country.

Viewers may not find the topics or even the predictions revolutionary, but what is particularly astounding is the eloquence with which kids from all over the globe express themselves when treated with a certain respect. They don’t mince words nor dance around sticky subjects.

For instance, Carlotta, a young girl from Italy, theorizes, “There will definitely be advances in technology and everything will be much more efficient. As a result, there won’t be as much satisfaction in doing simple things.”

Ishma, a young African-American, talks directly of the racial discrimination he’s experienced: It causes “a throbbing kind of pain and makes you cry.”

Technology is a big topic, as is the environment. One girl theorizes about changes in social ideals, hoping that some day fat people will grace the cover of Vogue. Another reminds adults to remember our dreams now that we have acquired the power and strength to make them come true.

“Nickellennium” is not all serious stuff, however. There’s a kid from Romania whose main objective is to own 1,000 cats. Then there’s the young girl who wants to create a machine to make little brothers disappear. There’s even talk of a superhero named Bananaman.

Of course our future will not be so cleverly edited or set to a hip-hop beat, but this mostly feel-good special should at least allay any immediate fears of impending doom at the hands of the next generation.

Editors Meg Reticker and Anthony Amoia deserve praise for the sheer volume of work here. Judging from the clip, they keep the docu flowing nicely with clever use of Amoeba Proteus’ graphics and music by John Kimbrough and Zach Danziger. Docu is also buoyed by the debut of original songs by Julianna Hatfield and Nina Persson (of the Cardigans).

“Nickellennium” will air in 122 countries in nine languages, although only in the U.S., U.K. and Australia will viewers get the whole 24 hours. Latin America will air 18 hours of the docu, while viewers in the Middle East, Russia, Africa and Asia will see significantly shorter versions.

Nickellennium

Jan. 1; 12 a.m.; Nickelodeon

Production

Filmed in various locations by Nickelodeon. Executive producer, director, Linda Schaffer; associate producers, Lisa J. Bloch, Katherine Dore; executive creative director for Nickelodeon, Scott Webb.

Cast

Camera, William Rexer II, Jonathan Furmanski; editors, Meg Reticker, Anthony Amoia; music, John Kimbrough, Zach Danziger; sound, Andy Kris, Mary Ellen Porto. 24 HRS.
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