Audiences hoping to escape the current pandemic by entering a slightly more fun one might do so via Sweet Tooth, a new Netflix series based on the comics by Jeff Lemire. The fantasy adventure is set in the wake of a mysterious incident called “The Great Crumble”, which sounds like a pudding but is actually a deadly virus whose symptoms begin with the telltale tremor of a finger. Either as a result or cause of the virus, hybrid animal-human babies start being born. To avoid hunters, a father (Will Forte) escapes to Yellowstone National Park with his antlered son Gus (Christian Convery), and teaches him to go stag.
After the initial weirdness of its CGI cross-breed babies, Sweet Tooth is surprisingly toothless. Itself something of a hybrid, it combines Western tropes with Spielbergian schmaltz as Gus embarks on an AI Artificial Intelligence-style journey to find his human mother. En route the deer-boy treads well-worn territory without bucking the show’s many clichés. The spirited child and older caretaker dynamic has been done to death (comparisons to Hunt for the Wilderpeople are inescapable), and that’s before the inevitable scene where the wandering survivors take shelter with a normal family. Even the Yellowstone setting is taken from Yogi Bear.
These ideers are neither bad nor fawnworthy, but they are tried and tested with a rigour approaching medical grade. Presumably Netflix will have some attention-grabbing twists planned for the back half of the series, but whether the streamer can control those fingers tremoring above the off switch might depend on viewers’ patience for cute creatures and folk rock. The production is a glossy, high-contrast affair narrated by James Brolin, feeling very comic book-like in the hands of DC Entertainment and Robert Downey Jr’s production company (though anyone expecting an Iron Man/DC crossover will be disappointed). The inclusion of face masks, social distancing and ecological messaging brings the sweetness, but misses the bite.
Sweet Tooth is released on Netflix on 4th June 2021.
Watch the trailer for Sweet Tooth here: