Arlo the Alligator Boy
Arlo the Alligator Boy is about a group of misfits, each with their own unique identifiers and charm, journeying together to New York City in search of a place to belong. It’s an overdone and simplistic concept, yet the film takes the viewer on all kinds of emotional journeys, from real sadness, happiness, and genuine care for the characters to explorations of family, friendships and embracing others’ differences alongside one’s own.
Arlo is an endearing main character. With his bright, sparkling eyes, and his naivety and curious excitement, one can’t help but be charmed, rooting for him despite the disastrous shenanigans he catalyses. Most importantly, because of who he is, he is able to rally the cast of misfits and pull them in for the adventure. It’s an extremely fun dynamic between a group of very different characters.
The animation is an extravagant display of stunning art and use of colour. In an age when the genre is becoming rapidly reliant on CGI, it’s so refreshing to see impressive use of 2D art mixed with the ambiance and techniques of 3D animation. The scenes are brightly colourised with deep contrasts, creating wonderful static backgrounds that work alongside the movement of light (stars, glitter, fireflies, fireworks) to truly capture atmosphere. This also helps put the characters at the forefront without completely overpowering the landscape and sceneries.
The artwork isn’t simply a display of pretty images and attractive characters either – it draws the eye with varying effects, depending on what the scenes and characters demand. For example, the swamp glistens at night, but looks green and slimy in the morning; the villainous characters have yellow teeth and rotting fingernails. Such attention to detail results in even one-off background characters having their own unique and distinctive designs, making them just as memorable.
From the very first scene, the soundtrack score pulls the audience in with a sort of sentimental wonder, setting the tone and further enhancing the visuals. Musical numbers are short but plentiful, bitesize pieces of wholesome and straight-to-the-point lyricism coupled with catchy melodies. But the songs do their job well, working as plot devices, providing exposition and characterisation, and combining with imagery to elicit emotion from the viewers. And it helps that the vocal performances hit the right notes and tug at the right heartstrings.
Arlo the Alligator Boy is released on Netflix on 16th April 2021.
Watch the trailer for Arlo the Alligator Boy here: