Film Review: Spork

Spork is a wonderfully offbeat, music-infused comedy. The impeccable integration of graphics and animation with the live action is presumably the synthesis Scott Pilgrim vs. The World hoped to achieve.

Teenager Spork is bullied by her classmates, and feels very much at odds with the world. Spork decides to take part in a dance competition, and with the help of neighbour Tootsie Roll and friend Charlie, she hopes to stand up to the girls bullying her…

The young age of the protagonists belie a mature story. On the surface, Spork is simply a film about school drama. The issues it addresses, however, move beyond this. At its heart, Spork is a film about acceptance, whether that is from peers or whether it is self-acceptance. The fact that Spork is a hermaphrodite makes her life more difficult, but this does not define either her or the film.

The humour of Spork also adds to this air of maturity. Some of the jokes are more suited to an older audience, coupled with the more colourful language. Spork is very aware of the ethnic diversity of its characters and often reflects on this, mostly humorously.

Spork is a protagonist who is easy to sympathise with, and someone who you can really root for. Although her troubles seem particularly suited to school years, the journey to self-acceptance is universal. Tootsie Roll is a outlandishly entertaining character; she is both humorous and sensitive in her friendship with Spork. Betsy is the stereotypical mean girl. In a film such as Spork, with its cartoonish atmospherics, she appears entirely in keeping as the villain of the piece.

Writer and Director J.B. Ghuman Jr. has created a highly stylised world in which the characters operate in. The environs appear fantastically eighties, with the clothes and hairstyles, props and the music. References to Britney Spears and the like reveal a more recent setting, however. The result is a surreal world, which is heightened by the inclusion of animation and graphics.

Music is a major element of the film; the soundtrack is both modern and retro. The dance sequences are very entertaining, with Tootsie Roll and her crew exhibiting their talents.

The young cast give great performances in this film. Savannah Stehlin as Spork in particular is excellent. Rodney Eastman brings humour and sincerity as Spork’s older brother Spit, while Sydney Post is lively as Tootsie Roll.

Spork is a bright and engaging film that should have a wide appeal, despite the age of its protagonists.

Spork is being screened at the British Film Institute’s London Film Festival in October 2010.