Review: ‘Max And Josef: Double Trouble’

Having a bossy turtle whose voice only you can hear as your best friend ain't so great in "Max and Josef: Double Trouble." First Swedish feature to blend CGI character animation with live action is a hectic but delightful family pic whose surface fantasy conceals complex -- even borderline-disturbing -- insight into one little boy's problems adjusting to a new baby sis. Only grownups will fully grasp that content, while kids will enjoy slapstick and imaginative aspects.

Having a bossy turtle whose voice only you can hear as your best friend ain’t so great in “Max and Josef: Double Trouble.” First Swedish feature to blend CGI character animation with live action is a hectic but delightful family pic whose surface fantasy conceals complex — even borderline-disturbing — insight into one little boy’s problems adjusting to a new baby sis. Only grownups will fully grasp that content, while kids will enjoy slapstick and imaginative aspects.

Eight-year-old Max (Axel Skogberg) is accustomed to being the “baby” of his family. He’s initially enthused that mom (Tintin Anderzon) is expectant again. But the reality of a screaming, demanding infant is something else. Already overwhelmed by the still-expanding brood in their cramped middle-class home, ma and dad (Per Svensson) sop Max’s desire for a puppy with birthday gift of tortoise Josef. Voiced by Jonas Karlsson, expertly animated turtle is cranky and paranoid, a reptilian Iago — embodying Max’s less-kind sentiments toward his new sibling. Often broadly funny pic subtly works in several instructive angles, including the hyperactive hormones of Max’s teen siblings and the neediness of a single-dad neighbor (Johan Rheborg). Tech package is snappy.

Max And Josef: Double Trouble

Hakan Brakan & Josef Sweden

Production

A Svensk Filmindustri production in association with Sveriges TV, Nordic Film & TV Fund, and Film I Vast. Produced by Waldemar Bergendahl, Cecilia Norman. Executive producers, Kerstin Bonnier, Johan Mardell, Henrik Widman. Directed by Erik Leijonborg. Screenplay, Lars Lundstrom, based on the novel by Anders Jacobson and Soren Olsson.

Crew

Camera (color), Rolf Lindstrom; editor, Anders Nylander; production designer, Lasse Stromsten. Reviewed at Mill Valley Film Festival, Oct. 8, 2005. Running time: 82 MIN.

With

Axel Skogberg, Jonas Karsson, Per Svensson, Tintin Anderzon, Jonathan Rheborg, Leo Holm, Emma Engstrom, Miranda Ford, Bisse Unger.
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