Over The Garden Wall (2014)

Rating: ****
Review Date: 9/12/15
Cast: Elijah Wood, Collin Dean, Christopher Lloyd, John Cleese, Tim Curry

Incredible! "Over The Garden Wall" is a short, ten episode mini-series that aired on Cartoon Network. It's an existential journey that's both scary and silly, as two boys named Wirt and Greg get lost in a forest and try to find their way home. Wirt (Elijah Wood) is the older brother, and is a complete neurotic basket case with low self esteem, low self confidence, and a large amount of bitterness and teen angst. He has a lot of unresolved emotional baggage and is literally afraid of everything. Greg, on the other hand, fears nothing. He's young, innocent, blissfully naïve, and has a knack for goofing around and getting into trouble. He's cheerful to a fault, and Wirt resents his whimsical and carefree view of the world. The enchanted woods are not what they seem, and the boys have their hands full trying to get home and escape from a terrifying beast that seeks their souls. They encounter all manner of strange folk, including talking birds, singing frogs, dancing skeletons, voracious spirits, and haunted tycoons. The animation is quite good and the characters are all warm and likable. The art direction is both creepy and comical, and the tone of the entire series is a complex blend of terror and absurdity. The voice acting is superb, as both Elijah Wood and Collin Dean embody their characters perfectly. It's pretty heady stuff that's deeply symbolic, psychological, and metaphorical. If anything, it reminded me of Norton Juster's "The Phantom Tollbooth" and "Rule Of Rose." Highly recommended for fans of dark fantasy.