Poupelle of Chimney Town began as a picture book authored by comedian turned illustrator, Akihiro Nishino. The children’s fantasy story received an animated feature film adaptation with the screenplay written by Nishino. Recently, the movie has come stateside bringing this marvelous world to a brand-new audience.
The tale follows a young boy named Lubicchi who works as a chimney sweep in his isolated home town. His father used to tell him stories of stars that lit up the night sky but due to the constant presence of smoke, the child is unsure if the celestial bodies are real but dreams of seeing them some day. One night he crosses path with Poupelle, an eccentric but good-hearted man made of garbage and together they set out to discover the existence of these legendary stars.
First and foremost, Poupelle of Chimney Town is visually beautiful and has an imaginative world. It expertly and seamlessly weaves both hand drawn and CGI aesthetics into striking images. There is great attention to detail with elaborate backgrounds and it all evokes a whimsical vibe that fits nicely into this fairy tale. The combination of stunning visuals and the soundtrack and score make for engaging storytelling.
The plot does draw upon familiar tropes such as the outcasts that are made better when they find each other. There are some dark aspects that might scare younger aged kids and sometimes the tonal shifts can be abrupt. However, there is a rich and interesting mythology behind the town that is gradually revealed that can help distinguish the story from similar ones. Also, the film stands out on its execution as it really creates an inspiring narrative of pursuing your dreams.
The voice cast of Poupelle of Chimney Town includes known actors such as Tony Hale and Stephen Root. Hale is more subdued and reserved as Poupelle compared to his other voice work. It fits for the role here but is a little disappointing seeing how committed and over the top he can be in his other animated projects. Root is a bit inconsistent as Lubicchi’s father. On one hand he develops so much wonderment as he regales his son with his stories but there is a disconnect with the actual voice and the character that appears on screen. It could be a part of the character design since Root’s Bruno doesn’t necessarily scream loser schlub and drunkard.
Antonio Raul Corbo, best known as Nikolaj Boyle from Brooklyn Nine-Nine, is the star as Lubicchi. The actor instills so much innocence and steely resolve into the character that it’s difficult not to root for him. His positive nature and search for truth is infectious that it affects the people around him to rally for his cause.
Poupelle of Chimney Town is a gorgeous animated feature with an uplifting message of reaching for the stars.
Poupelle of Chimney Town is currently in theaters.