On the coldest night in the history of the world, a baby Jack (Orlando Seale) is born and abandoned by his mother, and Madeleine (Barbara Scaff), the midwife/witch who delivered him, adopts him as her own. Unfortunately, the winter chill freezes his young heart solid, and she is forced to replace his heart with a mechanical cuckoo-clock heart. As he grows up, Madeleine protects him from the outside world, and she constantly warns him that his mechanical heart will break and he will die if he ever falls in love. His curiosity for the outside world prevails, however, and he falls for Miss Acaia (Samantha Barks), an enchanting young singer.
Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart is such a mixed bag for me. There are so many sequences and ideas that I absolutely love, like the Jack the Ripper song on the accordion train and the travel sequence with Georges Méliès. The character designs are striking, particularly older Joe (Harry Sadeghi) with the eye patch and Arthur (Richard Ridings) with his xylophone spine. I also like the combination of these very modern songs with this fantastical 1900s-era setting. Most of the musical sequences would make really great music videos.
The problem is that Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart is that it works better as a series of music videos than a narrative feature film. It is 89 minutes, and in between the music numbers, the movie tends to drag, especially towards the end. Animation and music enthusiasts will enjoy parts of Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart, but I would recommend watching it on DVD or Blu-ray with a remote close by to fast-forward from song to song.
The Blu-ray release comes with featurettes on the characters and translating Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart from book to the big screen. Both of these featurettes are great, but I still have a huge problem with this Blu-ray release. The Blu-ray comes with the English language track and doesn’t give the option to watch it in the original French, and the English subtitles do not match up with the English language track. It is hugely distracting and frustrating for someone like me who enjoys comparing the English voice cast with the original French voice cast.
"Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart" is on sale October 7, 2014 and is rated PG. Animation, Musical, Romance. Written and directed by Mathias Malzieu. Starring Barbara Scaff, Harry Sadeghi, Orlando Seale, Richard Ridings, Samantha Barks, Stephane Cornicard.