Wendell and Wild was an animated feature most recently released on Netflix. Still, the movie initially started as a book that was never released, and even the film initially started in 2015 with both Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele attached to star in the film. While the film, without even being released, appeared as though it would be Tim Burton produced or directed with its dark and eerie tones for an animated movie but was created by a previous collaborator of Burton, Henry Selick. Below, we’ve detailed the history of Wendell and Wild, from the film to the original book and everything in between, including the previous works of Henry Selick and the hometown inspirations behind it all.
As stated above, Wendell and Wild appeared to be associated with Tim Burton somehow. Still, the similarly-styled director and writer Henry Selick has released other films that commonly get passed off as purely Burton’s, such as James and the Giant Peach and Coraline, as well as The Nightmare Before Christmas. While The Nightmare Before Christmas can’t be taken from Tim Burton as he was the conceiver of the idea of the film, the lead writer and producer, Henry Selick, directed the film. As for James and the Giant Peach, Henry Selick was a director and co-producer, and Coraline was the most Selick film yet as he was a director, producer, and writer. However, Coraline was based on a novella by writer and comic book supergenius Neil Gaiman, of the same name. Henry Selick may be commonly compared to and associated with Tim Burton. Still, the film do-it-all has a much darker and more adult perspective on his animated projects, from Coraline to Wendell and Wild, which received a PG-13 rating for its short theatrical run and its now permanent home on Netflix.
Wendell and Wild
Wendell and Wild premiered in theatres shortly before it made its official debut on Netflix. While fans were excited to see the film, from its announcement into a prolonged production state, it likely already got attention on Netflix faster than theaters filled for the debut. When announced in 2015, Key and Peele were already attached to the film, and rightfully so, as the pair have appeared together and worked together countless times on MadTV to their show Key and Peele and even Toy Story and more. Key and Peele occupy the roles of titular characters Wendell and Wild, respectively, two of the three leading roles in the film, with the third main character, Kat, portrayed by Lyric Ross. While the leading cast members indeed lead the film with their wit and voice acting, the rest of the exciting cast for the film included Angela Bassett, James Hong, and Ving Rhames. While the entire cast has been worth appreciating individually, the movie has unique elements that make it stand out beyond any other stop-motion film, from the only-necessary use of CGI to shadow puppets and physical cutouts, and classic stop-motion elements and other techniques.
Henry Selick’s Origins
While the film Wendell and Wild featured a young girl whose parents had died in a car accident in which Kat was the only survivor, her fate as she encountered Wendell and Wild after the pair of demons had a vision of Kat after the car accident that killed her parents. From the death of her parents in a car crash to the five years after Kat had become a rebel without a cause in accordance with the music she listened to, classic Afropunk and similarly styled bands such as Fishbone, The Specials, TV on the Radio, In Living Colour, and others, showcased with their music in the animated feature. Although Wendell and Wild is a fictional story, as noted instantly with its stop-motion usage and supernatural elements, it has been inspired by true places and other elements inspired by the youth of Henry Selick. The inspiration from his home state of New Jersey, the same county as mine, goes far and wide throughout the film. The town within the film is called Rust Bank and is inspired by the real-life location of Red Bank, a working-class town loaded with small shops, fancy dining, and overall hot spots and more that pull in weekly attendance all year from across the state. While Red Bank doesn’t have a root beer factory, as noted in the film to be in Rust Bank, the general location of the town and the other inspirations that Selick included in the film include a local Catholic school, the basis for the school that Kat attended in Wendell and Wild.
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