Orion and the Dark
⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ (out of 5)
When contemplating the career of the creator of mind-bending films like Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Charlie Kaufman is not who one would have as a go-to for a children's animated adventure. Yet, Dreamworks has put the beloved picture book by Emma Yarlett, Orion and the Dark, into his hands. Interestingly, a child who is crippled by anxiety, fear, and neurosis might be the very story that the celebrated writer should be given to enter the world of animation.
Orion (Jacob Tremblay) is an 11-year-old who tries to get through each day at school without confronting his greatest fears. These tensions range from bees and dogs, being called on in class, accidentally blowing up the boy's toilet, being confronted by the school bully, Richi Panichi (Richi Panichi) and especially being left alone in the dark. As he documents his multiple anxieties in his journal, Orion tries to get through life, get home, and hide under the covers of his bed. This is until one night when The Dark (Paul Walter Hauser) decides to visit the boy and attempt to cure him of these fears in a 24-hour adventure that takes them on a trip around the world. As the pair travels through the night with many of the Dark’s counterparts, a friendship forms that will change them both. A journey that may help them embrace the importance of living life and how they have something to contribute to humanity.
Many viewers could easily compare Orion and the Dark to Monsters Inc and Rise of the Guardians. Yet, when you add Charlie Kaufman into the mix, there should be an expectation that there will be something different under the surface to discover. He has taken the brilliant simplicity of Emma Yarlett’s storybook and unmasked the real fears of young and old, not as a horror film, but as a fun journey through the psychological realities of a young boy and the ripple effects through time that occur as he confronts and even embraces his fears. The unexpected joy of this unique combination of writer and animation would work so well to entertain, educate and leave the viewer contemplating how they should face up to their own fears.
In our world that is fraught with mental health issues, Orion and the Dark touches on the very thing that paralyses many in our society. This quirky children’s tale proves to be a product of our times and offers an engaging way to help those who struggle with fear while providing a wonderfully charming option for families to enjoy together.
What should parents know about Orion and the Dark?
Many may need to be made aware of Charlie Kaufman as a writer and filmmaker. Still, he delves into the deep recesses of the human soul and mind. The layers of his story touch on life, death, fears, anxieties, the delicate balance of God’s creation, and the value of friendship. This Dreamworks production isn’t a typical Disney adventure that teaches us to follow our hearts. Instead, young and old can appreciate this children’s adventure as we all confront our fears. Some of the situations in the film may be a bit much for little ones, but overall, this is a charming story that parents should enjoy with their children. The topics introduced by Emma Yarlett’s imagination will lead to conversations that will last well into the night. Don’t be afraid; the Dark isn’t that scary after all.
Bible passages to consider:
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. - 2 Timothy 1:7
I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. - Psalm 34:4
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