An animated fantasy adventure, based on William Joyce's The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs. The film features a teenage girl, Mary Katherine, who finds herself thrown into the world of the Leaf Men, protectors of the forest, and a battle "between the forces of good and evil". It is produced by Blue Sky Studios, and directed by Chris Wedge.The first trailer can be viewed here, and the second here.Now with character sheet!
Anyone Can Die: The Leafmen's queen dies, Mandrake's son dies, a Boggan is seen falling down onto a car windshield and is just wiped off like a swatted fly, and who knows how many more sacrificed their lives in this battle.
Artistic License - Biology: What the good vs. evil element can seem like. The rot-loving Boggans are the bad guys, despite the fact decay is just as much a part of nature as growth is.
Mub and Grub are portrayed with teeth on the inside of the mouth and a human-like tongue. Mollusk jaws are nothing like that at all. Instead, a tongue-like organ called the radula (which is covered with teeth) is used to cut food. Putting their teeth on their tongue would be more realistic.
Ascended Fanboy: The flower kid, who idolized Queen Tara and wanted to be just like her, is chosen to be her heir when the pod blooms under the full moon.
Grub also joins the ranks of the Leafmen by the end of the film.
Badass Army: The Leafmen, being incredibly structured and full of competent warriors.
Beauty Equals Goodness: The Boggans are ugly, and the animals they use as mounts (bats, crows and a star-nosed mole) are ones that are generally disliked by humans. Whereas the Leafmen are all good-looking, and ride hummingbirds.
Cassandra Truth: MK doesn't believe her father's theory that there are Leafmen who live in the forest, and states that his marriage and career were (understandably) ruined because of it. At least until she gets shrunken down to size to see them for herself.
Chekhov's Gunman: The flower kid who wants to be like Queen Tara. Guess what happens...
Close on Title: The title never appears at all in the movie until just before the credits roll.
Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: The rich greens and golds of the forest (the use of yellow contributing to the 'warmness'), versus the cold colour palette and mud-browns of Mandrake and his allies. Also, the brightness of the forest, compared to the relatively subdued colours used in the house.
Dead Star Walking: Gee, you thought Queen Tara (voiced by Beyonce) is going to do a lot of ass-kicking throughout the whole movie except that she dies and gives the MacGuffin to MK. This also goes the same with Dagda who gets killed by Ronin earlier in the movie.
Deadly Dodging: Ronin dodges a shot from Dagda and kills him in return, but this allows Mandrake's shot to hit the queen as a result.
Disappeared Dad: Played with. Professor Bomba's single-minded focus on finding the Leafmen caused his wife to leave with his child. But when she returns at age 17, he does a terrible job of bonding with her because he has been alone so long with only a dog for company that he can't shake free of his obsession. When he finally does, it's when she's realized he was right all along.
Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Despite criticizing and making fun of him in their first scene together, Mandrake does genuinely care for his son Dagda and seems to have a good enough relationship with him in later scenes. He is also very angry when Bufo insults him, especially because at that point Dagda is dead.
They also wield wakazashi, the companion sword for katana.
Evil Only Has to Win Once: It's not made explicit, but it's pretty clear if Mandrake stops a new queen from being crowned, the forest wouldn't be able to come back from him rotting it.
The Fair Folk: The Leafmen, while not malicious, are heavily influenced by them. Chris Wedge's motivation to make the film came from seeing a museum painting of tiny fairy folk in a forest.
Failure Is the Only Option: Mandrake complains that no matter how much they destroy, Queen Tara can regrow it all back with a wave of her hand. Of course, if she were gone and had no successor...
Fantasy-Forbidding Father: An interesting inversion: MK wants her dad to abandon his obsession with the Leafmen because it cost him both his marriage and career, and is currently threatening the already tenuous relationship MK is trying to restart with him.
Five Stages of Grief: MK mentioned going through this early in the movie, and her father seems to be firmly planted in denial. And while it's not focused on in the movie, it could possibly hinted that both her and her father will go through it. Together.
Foreshadowing: A flower kid idolizes Queen Tara and dreams of becoming queen like her. She becomes the one to succeed Tara at the end of the film.
For the Evulz: Why exactly are the Boggans trying to destroy the forest? They'll have to live there too afterwards.
Furry Confusion: Some of the animals (like Mub and Bufo) and plants (like the dandilions) can talk and interact like humans but others (like the mouse and birds) can only interact as animals of comparable size to humans would.
Gave Up Too Soon: Just when Professor Bomba's recording equipment would have been useful (tiny MK needed him and his iPhone), he starts disconnecting them. Fortunately, he finds the needle MK moved on his map to indicate the Leafmen lair.
Giant Flyer: ALL birds from Leafman perspective, but in particular the hummingbirds and crows which are actually used as mounts.
Hollywood New England: The film takes place in the deciduous forests of either Connecticut or New York, Blue Sky Studios' current and former base of headquarters. During the end credits, we see memorabilia from both those states, as well as a few others in New England, like Vermont.
The cab from the beginning has a New York license plate and the college MK's dad works at is in NY as well, so there's a strong likelihood that it's New York. Additionally, MK's dad drops a mug labeled "White Plains Science Fair," and White Plains is in New York.
Though there is a strong likelihood of Connecticut as well, seeing as MK's dad has a driver's license from Danbury, CT.
In a Single Bound: Leafmen (and by extension all miniature people) can jump many times their own height. Once turned into one of them, MK finds she can do this, too, after a little practice.
Instant Expert: Averted and played straight. MK learns that she can fall great distances and leap super high, but throughout the film, never gets the hang of it, and pretty much every time she uses it, she misses her target. However, she learned to fly birds without needing any instructions (which could be handwaved since the birds are shown to be smart and well-trained and might only need basic guidance).
Insult Friendly Fire: Nod and Ronin mock Stompers for a little while in front of MK, who just happens to be a Stomper. Not made better by the fact that the Stomper they were mocking was her father.
Just One Second Out of Sync: The tiny inhabitants of the forest are hard for humans to see because they exist in a state where they naturally move faster than larger animals, humans included. Seen from MK's perspective, Queen Tara is vibrating so fast that she leaves after-images even when she's not actually moving.
The Marvelous Deer: Used for a romantic scene in which MK and Nod ride it against a setting sun.
Mauve Shirt: Ronin's second in command with the beard is the most identifiable Leafman outside of the main cast who leads the troops and has a few lines of dialogue. On the Villain's side there's the fat and skinny pair of guards who chase the heroes later in the film and can usually be fighting with one another.
Men of Sherwood: The Leafmen have no chance against the Big Bad, but against the Boggan army they are very effective even against poor numbers.
Missing Mom: MK moves in with her father because her mother passed away. It becomes the source of where most of MK's and her dad's dramatic moments come from.
Missing Trailer Scene: Nod dangling from Mub's eyestalks after dangling from the branch. Also, Mandrake's line "I'm going to destroy the forest - watch carefully, because I'm only going to do it once."
Mix-and-Match Critters: The Boggan Mooks look like a cross between frogs and sharks. Mandrake and his son, however, look more cat- and human- like.
Older than They Look: Given Queen Tara's held her position for a century, both she and Ronin (on account of being childhood friends) look very good for beings which have not only lived a century but, due to their heightened speed, must actually experience that period of time as being at least twice as long as it is for humans.
Omnicidal Maniac: Mandrake wants to rot the entire forest for no apparent reason, other than that the forces of life are his enemies.
One-Man Army: Ronin. All the way. Mandrake had his army prepared for hundreds of leafmen, thousands of leafmen, and Ronin still fought through them to get to him.
Passing the Torch: The life of the forest has to do this every hundred years. The film opens on the very day Queen Tara is to choose her heir.
Pimped-Out Dress: Queen Tara's gorgeous petal dress. In fact, it actually seems to come as a package deal with being queen. When a new one is crowned, she magically gets a similar dress.
Sundial Waypoint: The cast has to get the pod to the pool in the Leafmen base, where light from the moon at its highest point over a century will shine on it and it will bloom and pass on the life of the forest to Queen Tara's successor. If the pod blooms in darkness, it will bloom into Mandrake's heir.
The Tape Knew You Would Say That: Tara's final words to MK, which she couldn't hear at the time, are seen later in a mystical "flashback" created by one of Nim Galuu's barkscrolls. Tara starts off by saying (paraphrased) "If you're hearing this, it means you made it to Nim's," and anticipates what MK's reaction will be.
Too Dumb to Live: Nim. He has the MacGuffin that the bad guys are searching all over for, and what does he do? He holds it up to the crowd that's gathered at his tree, and tells each and every one of them exactly how important it is. And then, he sends out his fireflies to broadcast not just to the people he want's to get in touch with, but to the entire forest, that the MacGuffin is right here, and poorly guarded, could you please send reinforcements?
Not to mention half of the team charged with guarding it not keeping a very close eye on it while they're in the tree, and leaving it to the slugs.
Touch of Death: The Boggans' weapons can deteriorate anything they touch. Mandrake's staff is much more potent, able to fell an entire tree with one swing.
You Killed My Father: Mandrake's reasoning in taking the pod; a Leafman warrior didkill his son. (Of course, it's not really justified as Mandrake struck first, and he was going to take the pod anyway.)