"My Life as a Zucchini" Review

Title: My Life as a Zucchini
Director: Claude Barras
Studio: GKids
Genre(s): Drama
Rated: PG-13 (For thematic elements and suggestive material)

Considering we live in a time where our everyday news headlines read as if they were self-parodies of themselves, it is fittingly ironic that one of the most powerful and emotional movies you are going to see this year (or maybe any year) should have a silly title like “My Life as a Zucchini.”  Yet this is the world we live in, this is how life is progressing, and thus I am now writing about a movie that looks frankly and honestly at loneliness, what it means to be a family, and the curveballs life throws at us that bring us to the happy moments life has to offer.  Some might raise their hands and ask if an animated movie can tackle such themes and do them justice.  It’s a question, I admit, I am getting tired of answering.  You’d think such a question would have been moot after the world was given movies such as “Persepolis,” “Inside Out,” “The Illusionist,” “Spirited Away,” and so much more, but here we go again.  

When the movie begins, you sit down in your seat, bracing yourself for an oddball comedy or weird arts film.  Within five minutes a tragedy strikes and we sit up in our seats, biting our nails and gripping the arm rest.  The visuals have just done a perfect job of setting up the life of a young boy name Icara, and his unexpected plight grabs ahold of the audience in such a profound way we are on his side from the first frame.  From that point on the movie becomes more tragic, more heartbreaking, and more hopeful as Icara (who prefers to be called Zucchini for reasons I won’t spoil here) finds himself in an orphanage, surrounded by other kids his age who have all lost their families in different (but just as strange) ways.  For the brief amount of time we get with these kids, I felt I knew many of them better than I did any of the members of the “Suicide Squad” (and with half the running time to boot).

Despite only being 66 minutes in length, “My Life as a Zucchini” goes through many ups and downs as our main character adjusts to his new life, new friends, and comes to terms with the tragedy that he unwillingly set in motion that would also be his saving grace.  At one point a girl comes into the picture, who has life wounds that are very different from his.  They bond almost instantly, and we understand why.  This is a movie that understands that strong bonds come not just from shared joy, but from shared pain.  In a way, that is what all the kids in the movie have in common: they are all hurting and doing the best they can to pick themselves back up.  If they can do it together they might – just might – have a chance at being able to do so.
From where I sit, “My Life as a Zucchini” is the best movie about personal tragedy and how it shapes us as human beings I’ve seen in many a year.  It is an experience I am unlikely to forget.  The title of the movie is goofy and unlikely to attract much of an audience.  Like the headlines I read about President Trump, it reads like a self-parody.  Keep in mind though that headlines are attached to an article.  Likewise, this title is attached to a movie.  And in both cases when you actually take time to go beneath the headline, you can potentially find something very substantial and worthy of great thought.  “My Life as a Zucchini” is likely to falls through the cracks of obscurity.  It brings me no pleasure to have to admit to that.  But for the few who are brave enough to seek it out they are going to discover something wonderful and timeless.  For the rest…I hope the headline made you chuckle.

Parents, there are two discussions of human reproduction, a (crude) drawn image of male and female nudity, and a some serious themes about death.  Really though, if it weren't for the first two things, this would be an ideal movie to show kids to help them understand how life isn't always fair.  Sort of shame in that regard, but I'll let you as the parent make that final call.  Recommended for ages 12 and up.