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South Africa's First Animated Film Is Well Worth Seeing
"Tengers" has been marketed with taglines such as "A Small Adult Comedy with a Big Kid's Heart," and "Political Correctness Challenged," neither of which does the film justice or describes it accurately. Rather, it is an animated black comedy about a very dark subject: violent crime. However, violent crime itself is never treated as an object of humor. Instead, the film deals with the dehumanizing effects of living in a very violent, dangerous place like urban South Africa. Even if you're not a victim, you're still affected. Characters respond in very different ways: some try to honor the victims of violent crime, some try to grasp onto anything that will make them feel more valuable or important, and some become criminals themselves. At one point, a character wonders what it would be like to be proud of being from a certain area instead of ashamed of the problems associated with it. Another character nods in agreement, as a theft occurs right outside.
The stop-motion animation is pretty raw, with characters made out of clay living in a bleak urban landscape, but it suffices for the subject and tone of the film. "Tengers" is decidedly not for children, with a character referring to his region as the "murder capital of the world," and the film featuring one of the most genuinely shocking moments in any animated movie I have ever seen. But if you're reading this review at all, you could probably figure out that it's not for kids. If you're an adult, and don't mind unusual animated films with very serious undertones, consider it recommended. The last lines of dialogue are particularly great.
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