Ruby Gillman: Teenage Kraken

This is a No Wake zone, people!

The reasons why these blue-skinned krakens in “Ruby Gillman: Teenage Kraken” have to pose as people and get away with it are because they say they’re from Canada with a pin to back them up, and being this is a cartoon released by Dreamworks Animation, these animated humans are gullible. If this was a live-action film, then they’d probably be stupider than the characters in “White Chicks.” But since this is a cartoon, they have to believe they’re from Canada. And since this is targeted for today’s kids, they’re not supposed to learn the rules of “Coneheads” or “Bewitched.”

The reason why these krakens live on land is because the parents-Agatha (voiced by Toni Collette) and Arthur Gilman (voiced by Coleman Domingo)-tell their kids-the teenage Ruby (voiced by Lana Candor) and dodgeball champ little bro Sam (voiced by Blue Chapman)-that the ocean is dangerous when in actuality, Agatha has mommy issues with the Queen (voiced by Jane Fonda).

And the reason why they have to live by the ocean and not in the Midwest is because they need to stay moist.

It sounds like I’m entering “Turning Red” territory when Agatha is the overprotective mother of Ruby, who is learning how to deal with high school life, and when the young kraken finds out that only the women in her family can turn into giants in the ocean. Sorry, Dreamworks, but Pixar beat you to the punch of originality.

And sorry again, Dreamworks, but Disney beat you to the punch on “The Little Mermaid.” They have the new girl Chelsea (voiced by Annie Murphy from “Schitt’s Creek”) as a mermaid with red hair like Ariel’s and the personality of Ursula. The trailers spoil the plot of her being evil and wanting to destroy the krakens and rule the ocean, and add a subplot about Ruby and Chelsea being new BFFs to try to trick young movie-goers into thinking they can end the war of both species.

What’s fun are the way that these krakens, when in their human forms (if we can call them “human forms”), can stretch and be flexible. That’s why Sam is the dodgeball champ at school, and why Ruby can twist her legs when she’s in love with her math partner Connor (voiced by Jaboukie Young-White). And there’s also the lovable Uncle Brill (voiced by Sam Richardson), who meets Ruby and Sam for the first time. And I think he’s more aqua than the other members of the family, and that is my all-time favorite color.

But what’s really exhausting is the way the film has to use social media for entertainment value, like how the 2014 “Annie” did. And the fact that the story is too predictable and mean-spirited for us to really be engaged in. “Turning Red” was criticized by some for its behaviors and its suitability for kids, but that had more patience, energy, and truth in how Mei turns into a red panda. “Ruby Gillman: Teenage Kraken” seems to be overindulged in that film and the popularity of “The Little Mermaid,” up to the point of telling us humans we’re stupid to believe that mermaids are the good guys, when in this film, they’re evil.

If you want a fun animated film with a heroine who has her vulnerabilities, then “Nimona” is on Netflix, and “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” and “Elemental” are both still in theaters. “Ruby Gillman: Teenage Kraken” may entertain the younger viewers, but the older ones, not so much.

Rating: 2 out of 4.

Categories: Action, Adventure, Animation, comedy, Family, Fantasy

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