The new computer-animated feature film from Dreamworks offers an inventive spin on sea creature lore but is a typical coming-of-age story. This weakness may matter little to the young children begging their parents to bring them to this movie, but these adults have already seen this plot. Featuring vividly colorful animation, enough heart, and fun times, Ruby Gillman is an okay movie but hardly timeless.
Teenage girl Ruby Gillman (Lana Condor) may be a sea creature, but her family has abandoned their roots and settled for a less eventful, simple life among humanity in Oceanside. Claiming to be from Canada, the Gillman family have taken up new roots in the port town to offer Ruby and her little brother Sam (Blue Chapman) a less dramatic existence; however, Ruby craves more from life, as her parents Agatha (Toni Collette) and Arthur (Colman Domingo) are a bit overprotective with their daughter. With little knowledge of her heritage, Ruby soon discovers her family’s secret when she decides to rescue her drowning crush, Connor (Jaboukie Young-White).
After immersing herself in the ocean, Ruby discovers she is a feared sea creature known as a Kraken. After undergoing this frightening transformation, she demands answers from her parents. Ruby eventually learns that, unlike the false mythology behind Krakens, she belongs to a race of heroic and noble creatures who protect the seas and humanity from the evil mermaids. This fact proves to complicate life for Ruby further after she befriends the new girl at her school, Chelsea (Annie Murphy), the most popular girl at school who, in reality, is, in fact, a mermaid.
Written by Pam Brady, Brian C. Brown, and Elliott DiGiuseppi, and directed by Kirk DeMicco, Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken is fun enough. However, for all of its imaginative world-building, it has a lackluster story and plot. There’s enough humor and excitement to enjoy, but I expected more from its recognizable and predictable writing. The movie does feature a great voice cast, including Lana Condor, Toni Collette, Annie Murphy, Colman Domingo, Will Forte, and Jane Fonda.
I know the kids craving to see this new animated feature will have fun in the cinema. Still, as for those either disinterested or moderately curious, I encourage those parents to wait until this movie is available at home. Nothing about this film begs to be experienced in a theater.