Last October 7th, Shout! Factory released Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart for home video, via a Blu-Ray Combo pack that includes a DVD and a Digital copy as well. The French animated film might not be come with as much prestige as one would expect from CG animated features that came from the major studios, but its roots are by no means less impressive – Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart is based on the concept album from French rock band Dionysos and the illustrated novel La Mecanique du Coeur, which is written by the band’s lead singer Mathias Malzieu. Produced by Luc Besson’s company, the film also features stunning voicework from Les Miserables’ Samantha Barks and The Game of Thrones’ Michelle Fairley.
Visually, the film features top-notch stylized CG that brings to mind Burton and LAIKA’s visual stylings, managing a healthy blend of murkiness, innocence, and even humor without sacrificing either one at the alter of the other.
The premise is oddly unique, yet relatable: it focuses on a young boy who was born on the coldest day in history, which managed to freeze his heart. The boy would have died had it not been for a well-meaning witch who replaced his heart with a cuckoo-clock. Unfortunately, there is a catch: Jack must follow three cardinal rules in order to keep his mechanical heart ticking – first is never to touch the hands of the hear, second is to keep his anger in check, and most importantly – never, ever, fall in love.
Things start to take a turn for the worse when the boy meets Miss Acacia, a woman who has her fair share of secrets. Besides being nearsighted, she also sprouts horns when threatened. Finding it impossible not to develop feelings for each other, the couple must now journey to Miss Acacia’s home in Andalusia in order to prevent Jack from dying.
As implied above, Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart might not have any of the big name animation studios in its resume, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that the movie doesn’t belong up there with the recent greats. It skews slightly towards an older audience but the themes aren’t dark enough to warrant the watchful eye of a parent or guardian. If a young watcher manages to understand the twists and turns of the tale, then it will be enjoyable enough to warrant a viewing. For those of us who are old yet young enough to enjoy a steampunk rock musical with a heart, then Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart is a welcome addition to the home video shelf (or your media player’s library, whichever one applies.)