A young girl risks everything to prevent a powerful, multinational company from kidnapping her best friend - a fascinating beast named Okja.A young girl risks everything to prevent a powerful, multinational company from kidnapping her best friend - a fascinating beast named Okja.A young girl risks everything to prevent a powerful, multinational company from kidnapping her best friend - a fascinating beast named Okja.
Seo-Hyun Ahn is wonderful as Mija, Okja's loving companion, and the first 30 minutes or so that focuses on their relationship is the strongest material here.
Unfortunately, the other performances are all over the map. Jake Gyllenhaal gives a career-worst performance as a "wacky", perpetually drunk, borderline psychotic television host, and he alternates between channeling Jerry Lewis at a 10 and what I can only assume is one of the prisoners from Silence of the Lambs. It absolutely doesn't work at all, comedically or narratively, and he is the very, very, very low point of an otherwise enjoyable ride, completely at odds with the rest of the film. How the studio, filmmakers or actors watched this excruciatingly cartoonish performance and found it remotely acceptable is staggering, but it's a Razzie slam-dunk if I've ever seen one and it severely detracts from the overall experience.
The surreal, eccentric subplot about Tilda Swinton's character and her corporate empire fares slightly better in that it is never cringe-inducing, but still feels at odds with the tone of the Okja-Mija relationship, which is perhaps the only part of the story played relatively straight, for the better.
The film doesn't dance around its unsubtle messages about animals, factory farming and GM foods, to say the least. Some might be taken aback or even appalled at the unapologetic hardcore animal liberation themes, which include graphic, uncomfortable scenes of sadistic animal abuse, and even holocaust allusions. Holocaust allusions in a kid's adventure movie, you say? Welcome to Okja. Did I mention the film is rated R?
Still, if you can be forgiving of some truly curious decisions about tone and plotting, you'll probably enjoy Okja - the best parts of the film, like the heartfelt Okja-Mija relationship and a handful of riveting, beautifully put together action sequences, are so good that it makes the less successful choices more palatable. As of now I'd give it a 6.5 or so, but editing out Jake Gyllenhaal's atrocious performance would automatically bump it up a whole number.
- Jun 23, 2017