My Life as a Zucchini
Director: Claude Barras
Running Time: 70 minutes
Up for best animated feature, this French-Swiss stop-motion tale of a young boy's life in a group home offers a small, meticulously detailed story that leavens melancholy with humor.
Animated films can do more than babysit kids; instead of simply quieting children for an hour or two, they can act to open conversations with them. Most American animation does not share this goal, however, and aims instead to feed kids a steady diet of hyperactive screen candy. That's why the Oscar-nominated French-Swiss cartoon My Life as a Zucchini might feel like a vegetable instead of the delightful treat that it is.
Told in stop-motion, Zucchini packs a lot of detail into its brief, 67-minute story of an orphan who moves into a group foster home. That detail comes both through its intricate storybook sets, with claylike figurines, and in its thoroughly depressing screenplay. Even though the movie stars lots of cute kids who bumble around and make friendships, it's dark enough by U.S. standards to warrant a PG-13 rating –- a stamp which should not dissuade parents from bringing their smart kids, but merely signal the need to talk about some things with them afterwards.
~~ Andrew Lapin, NPR