The newest film from Dreamworks has arrived in theaters and I’m here to let you know if it is worth checking out.
Ruby Gillman: Teenage Kraken is the newest animated film from Dreamworks Pictures and, shockingly enough, is their first film to feature a female titular character. The film is set in the seaside town of Oceanside where Ruby Gillman is a 15 year-old math geek with a huge secret: she, and her entire family, are actually krakens masquerading as humans! All her life she’s had to obey a litany of rules, the most important being: never go into the ocean. Everything in Ruby’s awkward teen life turns upside down the day she breaks this rule.
Having long since left my teenage years behind, I went in to this film expecting a mildly entertaining story with a cute premise. What I experienced far surpassed all of my expectations. Ruby Gillman: Teenage Kraken is a touching story about embracing who you are, regardless of what the world wants or expects you to be.
Initially I was afraid, based on the previews, that this was primarily going to be a high school drama with a smattering of fantasy, but actually it’s the other way around. This is a highly enjoyable fantasy drama that’s put an entirely new spin on mythical sea creatures like giant krakens and mermaids. The latter is what initially drew my attention to this story in the first place: given the relative popularity of mermaids in pop culture, it was intriguing to see a film willing to turn that narrative on its head and make the mermaids the villains of the story.
Along with turning the story on its head, Ruby Gillman: Teenage Kraken touches on some pretty deep subjects. For instance, the film does not shy away from addressing generational trauma and ways one can work to break the trauma cycle (going to therapy is directly mentioned). I was also delighted to see one character reminded they were “catastrophizing” and that they needed to stop. As one who has struggled with a number of mental trauma issues over the years, it felt amazing to see an animated film address these topics so openly.
Now in the interests of full disclosure I will admit that the film does have a few predictable plot twists in it. This is understandable considering this is a movie primarily aimed at a younger audience. That being said, I was impressed with how one of the plot twists ultimately played out. It’s one of those where you think the reveal has been telegraphed well in advance, until the film drops a bombshell and you realize it’s a lot bigger than you thought.
Having talked with the film’s composer shortly before the film released in theaters, I was delighted to find the music was everything she described to me and more. One moment I hope everyone notices and appreciates is how the music switches up the first time Ruby willingly goes into the ocean. It’s such a huge musical moment and one that really serves to draw you deeper into the story.
All of this is to say that Ruby Gillman: Teenage Kraken is a gorgeous animated film that deserves to be seen on the biggest screen possible. It’s a touching story about discovering who you are and why it’s so important to communicate about important family matters.
Ruby Gillman: Teenage Kraken is now playing in theaters.