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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Kikoriki: Legend of the Golden Dragon is a full-length animated feature based on GoGoRiki, a television series made in Russia and aired on U.S. television beginning in 2008. The little round-ball animals (a pig, a ram, a bunny, a crow, an owl, and many more) move briskly through brightly colored backgrounds, with wry character-driven comedy as well as pratfalls to elicit laughs. This 2017 entry is filled with cartoon action. Characters are in danger from falls, careening flying vehicles, a gigantic volcanic eruption, scary rides, crashes, fire, roaring river rapids, an eager toothy shark, landslides, and chases. The story, which is set in motion by the accidental transfer of one character into the body of another, is easy to follow, capitalizes on the humor of the situation, and ends happily. The hero of this tale learns a lot about himself by the end of the story and about being happy with who you are and making the most of your own talents. It's recommended but not for little kids who can't yet discern the difference between real and imaginary violence.
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What's the story?
Poor Wally the ram (voiced by Vinnie Penna). He simply isn't as brave as Krash the bunny (Peter Linz) in KIKORIKI: THE LEGEND OF THE GOLDEN DRAGON. He wishes he could be. So, when Dokko (Tyler Bunch), his scientist-moose friend displays his newest invention, an "improverizer," with which anyone can add a special talent simply by activating an exotic helmet, Wally thinks his days as "scaredy cat (ram)" are over. Unfortunately, the invention isn't quite as perfected as Dokko hoped it was. To Wally's utter horror, when he sneaks to the lab, puts on the helmet, and activates the improverizer, it's not courage he receives but a whole new body! Wally has somehow turned into the little caterpillar who was hanging out nearby, munching happily on a leaf. And the ram now has a caterpillar inside his wooly body, a fact evident as he begins quietly munching on a leaf. Wally is desperate to undo the magic -- especially when he realizes it won't be long before his new body begins to transform into a butterfly. By the time Caterpillar Wally can convince his friends of his plight, the oblivious ram has gone missing. Their search sends all the Kikoriki into the heart of an island jungle, inhabited by tribal creatures, a legend, and two malicious crypt robbers looking for treasure. It's a wild adventure, with an uncertain outcome. Will the legendary golden dragon arrive in time to save the tribe from a massive volcanic eruption? Will the scheming villains escape with their ill-gotten treasure? And most importantly, will Wally find the courage he needs to save the day?
Is it any good?
Wonderfully bizarre characters, imaginative animation, and lots of laughs both for kids and grown-ups make this Russian film (well translated into English) a delight. The extensive cartoon action -- more funny than scary -- is as inventive as it is thrilling. And, like GoGoRiki, the TV series from which it originated, Kikoriki: Legend of the Golden Dragon peppers the fun with some relatable social messages about self-confidence, self-reliance, and teamwork. It's highly recommended, but only for kids who are comfortable with pretend violence.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what Wally learned about himself in Kikoriki: Legend of the Golden Dragon. How did he feel about who he was by the end of the story? What did Dokko, the scientist moose, mean when he said, "There's a little improverizer inside of all of us."
Look up "pupation," and find out about how caterpillars turn into butterflies in real life. Draw the various stages of the insect's transformation.
Audiences like movies in which people "exchange" bodies with someone else (like in Freaky Friday) or time-travel to other stages in their lives (like in Big). Why do you think these stories are so appealing? Whom do you know that you might like to change places with for a short time? Is it possible that, even if you could change, you'd rather be yourself? Why?
- On DVD or streaming: March 17, 2017
- Cast: Vinnie Penna, Peter Linz, Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld, Mike Pollock
- Director: Denis Chernov
- Studio: Shout! Factory
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Bugs
- Character strengths: Courage, Integrity, Teamwork
- Run time: 79 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some rude humor and peril
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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