Walter and Melanie in a scene from the animated film "Walter &… (Image Entertainment Corp. )
One of the definite outliers on the list of animated features submitted for this year's Oscars, the Canadian film "Walter & Tandoori's Christmas" is in the midst of a small off-the-radar release to maintain eligibility.
Based on characters that began on French-Canadian television, the story follows Walter, a shy inventor and handyman who speaks in a mumbling dialect that's somewhere between gibberish and a nondescript accented English — the obvious joke perhaps being to say he talks "Canadian." His friend and sidekick is a chicken named Tandoori, who talks with an Indian accent. (Get it?)
Their quiet, snowy mountain valley town is invaded one Christmastime by the head of a corporation known as "Jumbo Box," who places an enormous big-box store on the outskirts of town. At first the townsfolk are amazed by the bargains and the baubles they can find there, but as local businesses are forced to close and the local environment goes haywire from the store's pollution and garbage, people begin to worry that the Jumbo Box may be bad for their little town.
The film, directed by Sylvain Viau, is being needlessly shown in 3-D, as it doesn't seem much thought or effort has been put into the format, without much distinction going into the animation or look of the film overall.
Harmless if not particularly noteworthy, with a warm heart and can't-argue-with-that message of environmental and local awareness, the idea of "Walter & Tandoori" getting any further with the academy may a longshot, but who wants to stop the dreamers from dreaming big?
'Walter & Tandoori's Christmas'
MPAA rating: Not rated
Running time: 1 hour, 21 minutes
Playing: At the Regency Van Nuys Plant 16
PHOTOS AND MORE
VIDEO: The making of 'Argo,' 'Les Miz' and more
VIDEO: Holiday movies - A video guide
PHOTOS: NC-17 movies: Ratings explained