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Western Animation / Terkel In Trouble

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Terkel In Trouble (Terkel i knibe) is Denmark's very first all-CG animated feature. Terkel is a sixth-grader who lives with a dysfunctional family, and other townspeople are no better, from his foul-mouthed best friend, Jason, who always carries an iron pipe around, to resident school bullies Sten and Saki.

One day Terkel starts receiving death threats. Could they be from Sten and Saki, who were mercilessly beaten by Terkel's abusive, alcoholic uncle, Stewart? Or from Jason, whose fat and ugly sister Dorit committed suicide after being rejected and mocked by Terkel, who didn't know she and Jason were siblings?


Terkel In Trouble features a cast of mostly kids, provides dark and cynical humour, as well as unpleasant character designs, and thus is often compared with South Park; however, Terkel is less satirical and far less surreal than South Park.

The film is based on a radio show created by comedian Anders Matthesen, who does all voice acting for both the radio show and the film.

The film provides examples of:

  • Adults Are Useless: All adults in Terkel's life — except for Gunnar, who is actively trying to kill him — are either completely oblivious to or just plain doesn't care about his plight.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Played straight and later gender inverted. Johanna likes Jason, who doesn't fall for her until she tells him to "Fuck off and die".
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: For some reason Saki has greenish skin.
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  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: Because Dorit was the most unpopular student on the school, her gory suicide is treated as a joke by everyone, even the school's staff, who only conduct a very token investigation of it. Even her brother, Jason, is only slightly affected by her death for a brief moment before going back to business as usual.
  • Animated Actors: The scenes during the end credits show that the characters are just actors playing a part, even if it seems that someone takes this too seriously... Most of them are also Playing Against Type.
    • The Playing Against Type aspect is taken to ridiculous extremes with Terkel's father. His entire gag is that he can't say anything other than "No," but he keeps saying "Yes" instead during the outtake. Even when they put a sign with the word "No" inside his newspaper, he lets out a pained "Maybe"?
  • Animated Adaptation: Of a long-running radio drama/comedy
  • Animation Age Ghetto: Quite possibly the most bizarre example. The movie tackles some very controversial concepts, yet it was marketed as "the family movie of the year" and won a Danish award for best movie for kids and families. It's not so much that people just assumed it was for kids, they were well aware of the mature themes, but because of Values Dissonance, Danes don't consider it a big deal to let children watch that kind of stuff.
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  • Big Guy, Little Guy: Steen and Saki. Saki is the big guy and Steen's flunkey. Steen is the small guy and the leader of the duo.
  • Art Shift: Gunnar's song about a poor Thai boy is visualized in a "paper cut-out" style vaguely reminiscent of South Park.
  • Brick Joke: When Gunnar is introduced and points out that Terkel sat on a spider, the latter says that it's no big deal since he could just wash his jeans. After Gunnar's and Lise-Lotte's deaths, the latter is smeared out on Terkel's pants, and when Jason points it out, Terkel says the same thing.
  • Camera Abuse: For a brief moment Terkel involuntarily pisses over the camera "lens".
  • Canon Immigrant: Stewart Stardust, Terkel's uncle, was a character created by comedian Anders Matthesen several years before this film.
  • Commander Contrarian: Played for Laughs with Terkel's dad, who is unable to say anything at all but "no", even at his wedding... For the 2nd time nevertheless.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Gunnar wants to kill Terkel because he sat upon a spider, squashing it.
  • Dub Name Change:
    • Barry is called Arne in Denmark.
    • In the American English dub, Gunnar is renamed to, of all things, Dick Balsac.
  • Eye Scream: Rita is eventually blinded... by forks.
  • Finger-Twitching Revival: Gunnar
  • Granola Girl: Gunnar can be considered a male example.
  • Hilarious Outtakes
  • Limited Wardrobe: Every character has always the same outfit, except for Arne, who appears as several characters during the whole film. Terkel's father also reads the same newspaper every day!
  • Lost Aesop/Spoof Aesop: At the end, Arne tries to come up with An Aesop, but fails (spouting a lot of mixed-up proverbs that really doesn't apply to the film) before he gives up, opens up a beer, and walks off the screen as he promises the audience that he will call them once he comes up with a good answer.
  • The Napoleon: The two thing that most notable about Steen is that he is the shortest kid in Terkel's class... And he is a massive bullying jerkass.
  • Narrator: Arne. He's also the music teacher and appears as many other bit roles, always addressing the audience.
  • Red Herring: In many clues hint that Jason is the one out to get Terkel because he had a large part in his sister's being Driven to Suicide. Actually Jason didn't blame Terkel for the suicide, and it's Gunnar who's out to get him.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Slapstick Knows No Gender: Or age as poor Rita repeatedly finds out.
  • Split-Screen Phone Call: When Terkel phones to uncle Stewart. Near the end, Terkel also phones to his parents, who were apparently involved in some kind of sex act (father dressed as a baby and mother as a dominatrix).
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Steen and Saki, the two major bullies in Terkel's school.
  • Talking to Himself: To the extreme — in the original Danish version, stand-up comedian Anders Matthesen voices every single character in the film. The Norwegian (Aksel Hennie), Swedish (Felix Herngren) and German (Bela B. Felsenheimer) translations were also each voiced by one guy.
  • The Unintelligible: Leon, Terkel's father, is able to communicate just by saying "No" over and over with various tones. Parodied during the Hilarious Outtakes, when Leon can't remember what he's supposed to say.

Alternative Title(s): Terkel I Knibe


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