Reviewed by: JimmyO
What's it about
An animated tale of a group of teens living in Budapest dream up a way to make a whole lot of money. It involves a time machine, mammoths and it is all wrapped in a Romeo and Juliet-ish love story.
Is it good movie?
One of the quotes on the DVD cover to The District promises an Eastern European South Park. Well, the kids in this poor area of Budapest do swear a lot, and they come up with an incredibly bizarre plan to make a ton of money, so it’s kinda like South Park. But the thing is, 8-year-olds saying “f*ck” and giving their parents syphilis by having a prostitute is funnier that a bunch of teenagers saying “f*ck” and having sex with prostitutes. Because this in pretty common place (well, maybe not the prostitute part), at least in my world. Teenagers swear and drink and do all sorts of things that could get them in trouble. And that would include a few hi-jinks that are crazy and dangerous. To be fair, I don’t live in Budapest and have never been there. Maybe this is really outrageous for them and the teens there are not as foul-mouthed as they are here in the States. But I’m guessing it comes from somewhere.
Yet the teens are surrounded by parents who are too involved in their own life to notice the kids. And if they do notice, they usually give really awful advice or call them whores and smack them in the face. Throughout it all, the kids and sometimes the parents find a little quality time to do a little musical number and rap. Hell, even the prostitutes have a couple of singing numbers. In fact, this satire is filled with lowlifes, whores and all sorts of fun stuff which surrounds these teenagers just trying to get by. And by getting by, the local kids come up with a plan to travel back in time and to make it so that their home will be on top of a bunch of black gold… oil that is. Meanwhile, two feuding families kids have fallen in love and a little Shakespeare is thrown in the mix.
There is nothing more insane in here than Cartman getting an anal probe by aliens. But the biggest difference between this and that quaint Colorado town is that this just isn’t funny. Again, children using filthy language is still sort of shocking, but teens… not so much. It may very well be that the humor would be more apparent if you are from that area and just didn’t translate well. But I did find the animation interesting. The people look like caricatures artist draw at amusement parks and sometimes almost seem real, in their face that is. It is a unique take but after awhile, the players in the district constantly “looking” at the camera was annoying. It almost felt like the animators were saying, ‘look how clever we are’ and rarely made me laugh or even care. Also worth noting, it is interesting to see how the filmmakers take on America and President Bush (and also, a few other parts of the world). It’s always kind of fascinating to see how others see us. And of course, since this is “politically incorrect”, I’m guessing a few citizens of the US might be offended. Not me… I was just bored.
Video / Audio
Video: The 16:9 aspect ratio looked good. The colors and the art really made for a semi-cool looking cartoon.
Audio>: The Dolby Digital sounded good also. Just wait until you hear all those hip rap tunes in this.
Making The District (30:34) at times is more interesting than just a “talking head” making of feature. It is a true behind the scenes of the making of the film. It includes recording vocals and some of the work that goes into the animation with the cast an crew talking to each other, but not to the camera (unlike their animated counterparts in the finished work). But it is also much too long, it probably would have been better to mix this with a few talking heads to talk about the creation of the story and it’s characters. It all cumulates in a very long introduction to everyone involved at the premiere.
You also get Excerpts From The Original Television Version (4:04). The animation certainly improved for the film. This would have been a much stronger feature if they had added entire episodes instead of just four minutes, but I think there might have been some legal issues with rights… so who knows.
Finally, we get the Trailer for the film and also Trailers For Other Atopia Releases including “The 4th Life”, “Imitation”, “The Short Life of Jose Antonio Gutierrez”, “On the Trail of Igor Rizzi”, “Antlers”, “Jimmywork” and “Missing Victor Pellerin”.
The District tries hard to be outrageous but never quite reaches the humor that it strives for. The current oil crisis is an interesting angle, with a group of teens coming up with some bizarre plot to make money from it. But the characters are dull and never inspire real shock or interest. This seems to be an attempt to cross the line a little bit, while it isn’t all that daring. Yet, one joke involving the World Trade Center was a little on the bad taste side. But that may have been what they were going for. The problem is, if you are doing satire or dark humor, it should at least be funny. This isn’t. But I did kind of dig the Rambo worshipping character. I liked that guy, he was funny.