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Western Animation / Animal Crackers (2017)

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Animal Crackers is a 2017 computer animated comedy loosely based on a graphic novel written by The Dreamland Chronicles creator Scott Christian Sava, who also directed the film alongside Mulan director Tony Bancroft. The film features the voices of John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Danny DeVito, Ian McKellen, Sylvester Stallone, Raven-Symoné, Patrick Warburton, Wallace Shawn, Gilbert Gottfried, Harvey Fierstein, Tara Strong and James Arnold Taylor.

The film revolves around Owen and Zoe Huntington (Krasinski and Blunt), a couple who's working at the dog biscuit factory owned by Zoe's father, Mr. Woodley's (Shawn). Desperate for a change, fate soon arrives when they inherit Owen's uncle's well-respected circus after he burns in a fire. Known for its amazing animals, the Huntingtons discover that a mysterious box of animal crackers that they were given is the secret to the circus's success, as the cookies turn the user into the animal they've eaten. All seems to be well, until Owen's other attention-seeking uncle Horatio (McKellen) plots to steal the magic box of animal crackers for himself, in a desperate attempt to take over the circus. It's now up to the Huntingtons to unite its family of acrobats and clowns to stop Horatio, though it'll take more than a few circus tricks to stop him completely.

Despite screening at the Annecy Film Festival in 2017, the film wasn't released in the US until July 24, 2020, on Netflix. It was released in China on July 21, 2018.

The trailer can be watched here.

Not to be confused with the Marx Bros. comedy or the newspaper comic strip and its television adaptation.

Has a Characters page in progress. Please move character tropes there.

Animal Crackers contains examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Esmeralda (who is elderly, overweight and homely) flirts with Horatio repeatedly, to the disgust of the latter.
  • Animorphism: The animal crackers allow the user to turn into the animal they eat.
  • Barbershop Quartets Are Funny: At one point in Horatio's Villain Song, Horatio's henchmen come out of nowhere and repeat one of his lines in barbershop quartet style, complete with appropriate hats. Horatio angrily shoos them out, saying "No harmonization, thank you." The creators hired a real barbershop quartet just for this gag.
  • Bare-Bottomed Monkey: When Brock accidentally turns himself into a monkey, Owen quickly points out that his butt is now blue, which becomes a bit of a Madness Mantra during the subsequent Freak Out. This scene was referenced in one of the film's promotional images, which had Brock staring concernedly at his own colorful backside. Owen also correctly specifies that having a blue behind makes him a mandrill.
  • Belly Flop Crushing: How the Zucchini is effectively curb stomped by the fat lady at the funeral Horatio and his goons crash. He goes through it again at the climax, this time in the hybrid form of a rabbit/turtle and she as a hippo, but he's looking forward to it.
  • Big Bad: Horatio P. Huntington, who drives the main plot of the movie with his motivations of stealing the titular animal crackers for their magic power.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The entire circus, in an action sequence that must be seen to be believed!
  • Big Good: The role is split between Bob and Talia, and also Chesterfield to a lesser extent. Bob is a kind-hearted entertainer who co-founded the circus that the movie revolves around with his brother Horatio. When Horatio goes bad, Bob and Talia do everything they can to stop him from taking over the circus, even though it costs them their human forms. Chesterfield is the de facto leader of the circus between Bob's disappearance and Owen's family inheriting the circus, and he also acts as a mentor figure to Owen.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Owen and Zoe met as children and are now married with a daughter.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: Mr. Woodley clearly took issue with Owen marrying Zoe and bullied him into working at the dog biscuit factory out of spite. Thankfully, after witnessing the circus climax, he softens up.
  • Deal with the Devil: When Owen is stuck as a gorilla because he lost his human form cookie, Horatio tries to manipulate Owen into handing over the circus and the animal crackers in exchange for Owen's cookie. Owen refuses the deal and does a quick Shut Up, Hannibal! speech.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: Horatio's Villain Song, "Could've Been Mine," starts out in Horatio's makeup room, but transitions to a variety of surreal, colorful scenes in the number. Throughout the song, you'll see Horatio climbing a spiral staircase of animal crackers, transforming into a giant, shadowy, beastly form, surrounded by neon signs, standing atop a tower of animals, and more, before fading back to the makeup room at the end of the song.
  • Fortune Teller: Esmeralda is known as one.
  • Goldfish Poop Gang: Horatio's band of outcast circus performers.
  • Humanshifting: The human cookie allows the animal-turned users to turn back into humans.
  • Informed Species: Brock inadvertently turns into what's referred to as a mandrill, but which looks much more like a baboon, albeit with a blue backside like a mandrill would have rather than the brown or red color baboons tend to have.
  • Insecure Protagonist, Arrogant Antagonist: Owen, the protagonist, starts out as an insecure young father. Owen loves the circus his uncle used to own, but his father-in-law, Mr. Woodley, plants the idea in Owen's head that Owen won't be able to support his family by working at the circus. Owen lets Mr. Woodley bully him into taking a job at Woodley's factory that Owen doesn't want. However, Owen goes through Character Development throughout the movie and becomes a stronger person who can stand up for himself. The antagonist is Horatio, Owen's other uncle, who has been an egotistical prima donna seemingly all his life, and schemes to take control of his brother's circus by whatever means necessary.
  • Konami Code: Binkley at one point suggests doing this to fix the dog biscuit machine.
  • Large Ham:
    • Horatio can constantly go into this territory sometimes.
    • Brock counts as well, as Patrick Warburton plays him.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: We first meet Owen and Zoe as children at the circus.
  • Missing Steps Plan: It's not clear how changing into a chimera will allow Horatio to take over the world.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Eating broken pieces of different animal crackers can turn the person who ate them into one of these, as Horatio and his companions figure out.
  • Moral Myopia: Horatio claims that the circus should've been his, never mind that even before he left it, he tended to treat his fellow performers like crap and only desired the adoring crowds for the perks of fame as opposed to wanting to make audiences smile and laugh.
  • Morphic Resonance: Owen keeps his hair color in animal form, usually as fur/skin/eyebrow color.
  • Musical Number Annoyance: At one point in Horatio's Villain Song, his henchmen suddenly appear out of nowhere and repeat one of Horatio's lines in the style of a barbershop quartet.note  Horatio sputters angrily before telling them to leave.
    Horatio: Would you sh— No harmonization, thank you.
  • Mutagenic Food: The animal crackers magically turn people into whatever animal they depict, with it being possible to mix and match broken pieces to become chimeric beasts. People can turn back by eating the human cookie that appears for them in the box but they only ever get one cookie.
    • Throughout the movie, Owen's co-worker Binkley is attempting to develop dog treats that taste like human food, but the failed results turn skin different colors. Eventually, she's inspired by the animal crackers to turn this flaw into a feature and develops animal crackers that colors people's skin to mimic animal fur like zebra stripes. Unlike the magical ones people can change back by burping.
  • Never Say "Die": Owen's Uncle Bob and Aunt Talia are "gone". Averted, as they're not actually dead, just in Shapeshifter Mode Lock.
  • No Song for the Wicked: Inverted. The villain, Horatio, and his henchmen, are the only characters to sing. Their Villain Song, "Could've Been Mine" is the only Broadway-style, non-diegetic song. Horatio also sings "Welcome" at the beginning, although that song is diegetic because it's part of a circus performance. The other vocal songs are used as background music rather than being sung by the characters.
  • Oh, Crap!:
  • Painful Rhyme: In the "Welcome" song, Horatio rhymes "decorum" with "perform" by mispronouncing the latter word as "perforum."
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Some of the animal transformations, especially the hamster.
    Mackenzie (after Owen eats the hamster cookie): Daddy's cute!
    Owen: Thank you, angel!
  • Running Gag: The Great Zucchini declaring Horatio to be his sidekick, rather than the other way around.
  • Scaled Up: Surprisingly, it's NOT the villain who does this, but Owen, and only at the very end of the movie when he eats a dragon-shaped cracker in the box to give a performance a fiery finale.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Great Zucchini crashes into a pile of manure at B. Tannen's Manure Farm.
    • One that doubles as an Actor Allusion: Horatio, voiced by Ian McKellen, tells Zucchini to "Fly, you fool".
    • The first time Owen eats one of Binkley's dog biscuits and turns random colors, upon seeing his reflection he exclaims: "I'm a heffalump!"
  • Shapeshifter Mode Lock: This happened to Owen (temporally) after he lost his human cookie to Brock (in a mandrill form) Near the climax, it revealed that Old Blue and Zena are actually Bob and Talia who were stuck in their Bloodhound and cat form because Horatio accidentally burn down their human cookies which means they won't become human again.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": The Zucchini, always.
  • Take Over the World: Horatio claims this as his end goal.
  • Third-Person Person: The Zucchini constantly refers to himself by name as narrates his actions.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: The Zucchini is a dwarf henchman of Horatio that falls in love at first sight with the circus' fat lady.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Esmeralda pulls the titular box of animal crackers, along with several other items, out of her cleavage.
  • Villain Song: Horatio sings one called "Could've Been Mine," about how he should’ve been the one to own the circus and having the animal crackers that can turn you into any animal. In the song, Horatio blames his good brother Bob for his (Horatio's) lack of success. Horatio sees Bob's generous attitude as completely foolish and thinks Bob wasted his fame, which Horatio desperately craves. Horatio's henchmen interject in the song for some funny moments, but overall the song is about a miserable, bitter man who will blame anyone but himself for his own failures.
    Horatio: It could've been mine, it should've been mine
    My manifest destiny!
    But it all went to Bob with his stupid hat
    And circus full of slackers!
    It could've been mine, it should've been mine
    I'm the one with the pedigree!
    I had the looks, I had the brains
    But he had those animal crackers...!
    That should've been mine!
  • Virtue Is Weakness: Horatio makes it obvious during "Could've Been Mine" that he didn't care much for Bob's kindness towards the circus audience and fellow performers.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • After Brock transforms into a monkey and is subsequently captured, he disappears from the movie and we never learn what became of him or if he was ever turned back to normal. He does make an appearance at the circus near the climax, but there's still no resolution on-screen. The author, upon questioning, gave it a Shrug of God. On the one hand, Owen and Zoe know exactly where Brock's human cookie is. On the other, the author prefers him as a baboon... so it's up to the audience.
    • Esmeralda appears in the opening scenes showing the backstory, but never again for the rest of the movie. Considering that there are two time skips (one of 30 years, and one of 7 years), and that Esmeralda looked quite old before then, she might have died, but it's never brought up.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Averted; there are many background details that peg the movie as being set somewhere in Tennessee, such as the vehicles in the movie having Tennessee license plates and a diploma from the University of Tennessee appearing during Horatio's Villain Song.
  • Wrong Line of Work: When Brock, Owen's coworker at the dog biscuit factory, is given the authority to do so, Brock assigns Owen to do accounting work. Owen makes it clear that he's not qualified to do this, as his only background is from a circus and his current job is a taste tester. Brock still forces Owen to do this menial work to bully him.