Getting the greatest sketch comedy band back together again isn’t even the most exciting news for this project.
Hey, y’all, Jordan Peele is busy. Like, seriously busy. He’s got a reboot of The Twilight Zone for CBS All Access in the works. There’s his HBO horror series, Lovecraft Country. That one is about a black man traveling across 1950s America as he encounters the racist horror of Jim Crow alongside eldritch terrors straight out of Lovecraft. Peele is also planning his next directorial effort for later this year. On top of all that, Deadline just announceda collaboration between Peele and Netflix which should excite fans of his sketch comedy work. He and his comedy partner, Keegan-Michael Key, will be teaming up to voice characters for a stop-motion feature film Peele is co-writing called Wendell and Wild.
The duo will play scheming demonic brothers in a film based on an original short story by veteran stop-motion animation director Henry Selick. The script will be penned by Selick, Peele, and Clay McLeod Chapman (The Boy), and it’ll probably be geared to adults, feature a great deal of creative input from Peele, and look absolutely beautiful.
You might not recognize Selick’s name, but you’ll certainly recall his past work. His feature film debut was the stop-motion animated film The Nightmare Before Christmas, which earned the first-ever nomination of an animated film for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. That team-up with Tim Burton has continued to captivate audiences well beyond its initial release date. Twenty-five years on, it still has a massive following.
Selick has also had two big hits adapting children’s books for the big screen. He brought a mix of live action and stop-motion with James and the Giant Peach. And, my how gorgeous. Look at those waves.
More recently, Selick adapted Neil Gaiman’s novel “Coraline” for the big screen. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and won the BAFTA Children’s Award for Best Feature Film. He’s a remarkably talented director, constantly challenging himself and his medium. The details and effects Selick brought to the screen in Coraline are the kinds of things that make you want to fall in love with film again.
Yet neither Key and Peele nor even Selick are the most exciting part of this project. Let me explain.
Stop-motion characters tend to have a very strong visual style. If you think of something like Wallace and Gromit or the recent hit Kubo and the Two Strings, you’ll get an idea of what I mean. The characters have exaggerated features and the photography style adds a texture to the experience that is difficult to replicate in any other medium. Selick, of course, has his own style.
Okay, now keep that in mind for a moment. Let’s just get a bit nerdy. A design credit caught my eye, big style. Argentinian artist Pablo Lobato will be creating the look of the characters with Selick. Lobato does gorgeous, colorful portrait illustrations that leave you looking for more.
If you dig these, you’ll definitely want to scroll through his Twitter feed and maybe wind up with a print on your wall. His art is moving for the same reason Selick’s work is so infectious. They both have a profound talent for expressing emotion. Look at that portrait of Tom Petty and tell me it doesn’t exactly capture the feel of the rock icon in Full Moon Fever.
Now, picture Selick bringing these portraits to life with his stop-motion work. Sight unseen so far, I know the look of it is going to explode your brain.
It’s rad to see Peele able to use his clout in the industry to realize the full scope of his creative pursuits. Obviously, Key and Peele riffing on each other again will be a ton of fun. But, y’all, the most exciting thing about this Jordan Peele project is Selick working with Lobato. With this talent-packed crew, there exists the potential for a film that is visually stunning with a story you won’t want to miss.