×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Free Jimmy

Norwegian-Brit co-prod plays like some unholy cross between "Dumbo," "Fritz the Cat" and "Requiem for a Dream." Plot pivots round Jimmy, a heroin-addicted circus elephant, on the run and pursued by all sorts across a Nordic landscape. Computer-animated pic could be too dark, dirty and insufficiently funny to achieve more than cult success.

With:
Voices: Woody Harrelson, Simon Pegg, Phil Daniels, Jay Simpson, Kyle MacLachlan, Emilia Fox, Lisa Maxwell, Samantha Morton, Kris Marshall, Jim Broadbend, James Cosmo, David Tennant, Douglas Henshall, Reece Shearsmith, Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton. (English dialogue).

Norwegian-Brit co-prod “Free Jimmy” plays like some unholy cross between “Dumbo,” “Fritz the Cat” and “Requiem for a Dream.” Plot pivots round Jimmy, a heroin-addicted circus elephant, on the run and pursued by all sorts across a Nordic landscape. Computer-animated pic has so far snuffled an intoxicating $1.3 million up its trunk in Norway with a Norsk-language version, but despite use of name voice cast for English-lingo incarnation shown in Cannes, pic could be too dark, dirty and insufficiently funny to achieve more than cult success offshore.

Dialogue never mentions where story takes place, but visual clues leave no doubt this is somewhere in Scandinavia, even if characters speak with a mishmash of British and American accents. Although translation of script by helmer Christopher Nielsen in English by comic thesp Simon Pegg (“Shaun of the Dead”) is fluent and frequently piquant, pic’s satirical edge feels blunted by blurry sense of which society is being skewered.

In unspecified city, a trio of Cockney-voiced druggies (voiced by Pegg himself, Phil Daniels and Jay Simpson) are asked by their American friend Roy Arnie (Woody Harrelson) to come to the sticks to help him take care of Jimmy, an Indian elephant who’s the star attraction at a decrepit circus run by Russian ringmaster Stromowski (Jim Broadbent).

Roy Arnie really needs the guys’ assistance not so much to feed Jimmy his daily doses of heroin and speed, but to help him kill the creature in order to extract a huge stash of smack surgically sewn under his hide. Three menacing-looking characters (Reece Shearsmith, Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton, all from cult Brit TV series “The League of Gentlemen”) from the much-feared Lapp Mafia are also after Jimmy for the same reason. Meanwhile, a gang of militant animal-rights activists led by Marius (Kyle MacLachlan) want to set Jimmy free. A string of mishaps result in Jimmy roaming wild on the moors. Cut off from his dope supply, Jimmy starts to go cold turkey, but is helped through his ordeal by a kindly, fleet-footed moose.

Plot doesn’t stint on the dark stuff given a sizeable swathe of the character ensemble end up dying bloody deaths. A graphic sex scene early on and the swear-word-laden dialogue establish from the off this is most certainly not kids’ stuff, but even adult auds will still flinch at the cruelty meted out here to man and beast alike. Lack of sympathetic characters, apart from the hapless eponymous pachyderm and his alcine friend, make whole bale of hay a bit of downer.

Script also is a bit light on the kind of outright funny one-liners needed to generate good word-of-mouth among auds most likely to buy into such product. Sensibility is closest to adult-oriented comic books, which is where writer-helmer Christopher Nielsen’s career started before he moved in shorts and TV production. With its simplified backgrounds and often clumsy character movement, pic’s production values suggest budget considerably lower than the average Pixar or DreamWorks pixelpic. Deliberately grotesque character design is somewhat ungainly, though Jimmy himself is a finely rendered beast, empathy-generating and genuinely realistically elephantine at once. The Lapp gangsters, with their ruthlessly cut cheekbones and traditional jester hats, likewise rep standout caricature work.

Free Jimmy

Norway - U.K.

Production: A Columbia TriStar release (in Norway) of a Norwegian Film Institute presentation of a Storm Studio (Norway)/Sarah Radclyffe Prods. (U.K.) production. (International sales: Norwegian Film Institute, Oslo.) Produced by Lars Andreas Hellebust. Executive producer, Bill Godfrey. Directed by Christopher Nielsen. Screenplay, Nielsen, Simon Pegg.

Crew: (Color); editor, Alistair Reid; music, Simon Boswell; production designer, Mikael Holmberg; character designer, Ivar Rodningen; sound (Dolby Digital), Jeremy Price; co-producer, Sarah Radclyffe. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Critics Week), May 25, 2006. Running time: 86 MIN.

With: Voices: Woody Harrelson, Simon Pegg, Phil Daniels, Jay Simpson, Kyle MacLachlan, Emilia Fox, Lisa Maxwell, Samantha Morton, Kris Marshall, Jim Broadbend, James Cosmo, David Tennant, Douglas Henshall, Reece Shearsmith, Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton. (English dialogue).

More Film

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    'Alien' at 40: Ridley Scott Explains Why 'You Don't Show the Monster Too Many Times'

    It’s difficult to imagine Ridley Scott’s sci-fi/horror classic “Alien” without the clear-minded, strong presence of Tom Skerritt as Dallas, the captain of the ill-fated Nostromo. But originally, the actor turned down “Alien,” which celebrates its 40th anniversary on May 25, though he thought Dan O’Bannon’s script read well. “There was nobody involved at the time [...]

  • The Poison Rose

    Film Review: 'The Poison Rose'

    It is 1978 in the City of Angels and the hard-drinking washed-up sleuth Carson Phillips is having another boozy day through its atmospheric streets. There is a hint of innate coolness and self-deprecation in his elongated voiceover intro — you might even briefly mistake Carson, played by a one-note John Travolta, for a Philip Marlowe [...]

  • 'Chambre 212' Review: A Comedy More

    Cannes Film Review: 'Chambre 212'

    Most of us, in our romantic lives, meditate here and there on the other roads we might have traveled, and movies are uniquely equipped to channel those alternate-universe-of-love possibilities. That’s the idea at the (broken) heart of “Casablanca.” And the fantasy of getting to see the turns your life didn’t take play out right in [...]

  • Zach Galifianakis Jerry Seinfeld Netflix

    Film News Roundup: Zach Galifianakis' 'Between Two Ferns: The Movie' Coming to Netflix

    In today’s film news roundup, “Between Two Ferns: The Movie” is unveiled, “Friedkin Uncut” gets a fall release and Sony Classics buys “The Traitor” at Cannes. MOVIE RELEASES Netflix has set a Sept. 20 release date for Zach Galifianakis’ “Between Two Ferns: The Movie,” based on his 11-year-old talk show. Galifianakis made the announcement during [...]

  • Romanian Crime-Thriller 'The Whistlers' Bought for

    Romanian Crime-Thriller 'The Whistlers' Bought for North America

    Magnolia Pictures has bought North American rights to the Romanian crime thriller “The Whistlers” following its premiere in competition at the Cannes Film Festival. Written and directed by Corneliu Porumboiu, the film stars Vlad Ivanov, Catrinel Marlon, Rodica Lazar, Antonio Buil, Agustí Villaronga, Sabin Tambrea, Julieta Szonyi and George Pisterneanu. Magnolia is eyeing a theatrical [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content