Disney producers would tear their hair out at the sight of this odd little delight.
Moon Man gleefully disobeys all rules of Hollywood storytelling, with whole chunks of time going by without the story being progressed in any sort of meaningful way. It is a film that meanders leisurely along, stopping (literally) to smell the oil-slick-coloured flowers on the way.
The dialogue is minimal, the animation (deceptively) simple, the storyline slight at best. And there’s not a talking animal in sight (although there is a banjo-playing cricket).
Moon Man, made in 2012 but only now dubbed into English, is faithful to the spirit of Tomi Ungerer’s children’s book, in which the titular man in the moon takes a comet-ride to Earth and falls foul of the ruling elite.
The film even maintains some of Ungerer’s more subversive elements, especially in the depiction of the fascist President of Earth and his band of adoring sycophants. There are nightmarish elements alongside the humour, as the faces of party-goers warp with greed and rallies are held in front of colourless subjects.
But, by-and-large, this is a sweet tale of a stranger arriving on Earth, and learning the true meaning of friendship. The relationship between mad scientist Dr Bunsen and the Moon Man is adorably reminiscent of ET, and the regular cutaways to the children of Earth trying to convince their parents that they can’t sleep without the man in the moon add a lovely air of nostalgia to the mix.
But the main thing you can’t help but take away with you is just how utterly mental this film is. There’s a boom-chicka-wah-wah seduction scene, a short burst of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, and a countryside littered with impossible creatures and inexplicable ice cream men.
The film will certainly be a little too weird for some tastes, and too slow for children raised on the likes of Shrek. It is probably best enjoyed by adults looking to while away an afternoon dreaming of all the possibilities that lived in their childhood imaginations.