School holiday season would dictate more animated and family oriented films being released in the theatres, and while we would rue at having to wait until September for Pixar's Up, we have to make do with the rather lacklustre Monsters vs Aliens with 3D gimmick, and the little unknowns (pardon the pun) like Sunshine Barry and the Disco Worms, set in the insect kingdom with earthworms species being put in the spotlight.
I suppose it's a challenge to animate earthworms. After all, they're tiny, they're slimy, and you just can't tell heads over tails. But no matter, this Danish animation managed to have it all worked out, fusing disco singing and dancing, with an effective, if not tried and tested, formula about turning zeroes into heroes. Released as the dubbed English version here, the animation is easy on the eyes, going for a very clean look with just enough visual details that prevent it from clogging up your senses. Disco lovers will no doubt find themselves tapping to famous tunes of the Disco era, such as Blame it on the Boogie and evergreens from the Village People, amongst others.
But I was rather surprised and pleased at the more mature theme a show for kids had attempted to tackle, and that's on discrimination. It's set very early on in the film that the earthworms are of lower caste in the insect kingdom, getting no respect or love from the larger community, just because they are at the bottom of the foodchain, having no valued skills other than to maintain the compost of their shared habitat. Literally the shit job if you'd like, and having a career none other than to do that for the rest of their lives. One cannot even aspire to be the CEO of their compost company, because it's a position reserved for other insects to manage over them.
So dreamers like the titular Barry, who dreams of being a disco singer/dancer with his own band, have no place in the community for his lack of willingness to conform, unlike best pal Tito, a fat worm looked down upon and being made fun of because of its weight. Barry finds his true calling one day when he gets passed down his dad's old box to help him in his middle-management examinations, and soon finds enough inspiration to turn his dream into reality, even if it means dodging his protective mother's queries, and having absolutely no clue going about doing so, assembling a rag-tag team of worms with raw talent that needs plenty of polishing.
Throw in a romance subplot, and a chief adversary in the form of a ballad crooning beetle who sees them as a rival in their bid to win 10 Grand in a Top of the Pops equivalent contest, and you have a neat film which has great musical tracks and a simple story with a main theme that children can grasp onto. It's a little inspiring as well with the entrenched thought of dreaming big, and working at making one's dreams come true, with what matters being the journey and the experience gained, not everything focused solely on the destination and material goals.