Frank Gladstone’s animated kids’ movie The Hero of Color City is a perfectly pleasant pastiche of other movies, the most obvious antecedent being the Toy Story films.
Every night after a young boy goes to sleep, his generic, definitely-not-Crayola crayons come to life and pass through a vortex to their world of Color City. After greedy, unfinished sketch King Scrawl follows her into Color City, self-consciously timid crayon Yellow (Christina Ricci) must overcome her deep fears of everything and go on a journey to stop the King from hoarding all the color for himself, lest he siphon the crayons of their hues (and, eventually, their existence).
As movies aimed at pre-schoolers and kindergarteners go, The Hero of Color City largely respects its audience’s burgeoning intelligence, and in its examination of Color City’s class system, which is hard on uncolored drawings, even has hints of Jean-François Laguionie’s The Painting.
But mostly it’s just fast-paced fun for kids that won’t make their parents miserable, and that the hero of the title is a girl who becomes self-actualized is a nice step forward for this subgenre. And speaking of movies that distrust girls, the absence of any brand names allows The Hero of Color City to avoid becoming a feature-length commercial like (to name a random example) the wildly overpraised Lego Movie.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 1, 2014