Zip & Zap and the Marble Gang (2013)
Editor’s Notes: The following review is part of our coverage for TIFF’s Kids International Film Festival which runs from April 8th to April 21st at TIFF Bell Lightbox. For more information on upcoming TIFF film series visit http://tiff.net and follow TIFF on Twitter at @TIFF_NET.
Zip & Zap and the Marble Gang is an adventurous romp through the labyrinthine passageways of an old castle that has been turned into some sort of Ayn Rand’ian boot camp for mischievous youths, telling us a story from the perspective of the precocious duo, Zip and Zap, and offering a commentary on the shifting modes of thought on child discipline. The harsh disciplinary tactics of the reactionary parents of yesterday have been outmoded through the reevaluation of priorities and objectives by a new generation that lives in a globalized world and has instant access to information. Wikipedia likely has volumes on unsuccessful parenting tactics that overemphasize discipline to foolishly attempt to impose lockstep idealogical conformity. Unfortunately for our titular duo, the “Hope Reeducation Center” hasn’t received the memo and the sacred right of childhood summer fun isn’t going to be easy with the facility’s harsh discipline and cruel administrators.
Zip & Zap and the Marble Gang is an adventurous romp through the labyrinthine passageways of an old castle that has been turned into some sort of Ayn Rand’ian boot camp for mischievous youths…
Zip and Zap begin their trek to the Hope Center in a bus with barred windows and upon arrival are forced to turn over any recreational items that might cause spontaneity or fun in prison style confiscation of personal effects upon check-in. They are given a tour of the drab facility in new required uniforms and see the elaborately fenced in yard, prison style dining hall, and “meditation room” where rebellious youngsters are sent to reflect on their misdeeds as the facility seems to have placed an embargo on childhood. Fortunately the rebellious spirit is born in childhood and isn’t pried from our souls until we reach adulthood and become subject to endless streams of non negotiable responsibilities. Like whimsical cousins of the repressed students of Jean Vigo’s Zero for Conduct the student population forms an underground rebellion, casting off the arbitrary rules of the adult world as they purposely misspell victory with a “B” for their flag and rallying cry, “B for Bictory!”. Their initial mission was to bring fun and mischief to the hallowed halls of the Hope Center, but after stumbling across clues to a potentially lucrative mystery their mission must change. They must now traverse through the perilous secret contraptions of the Hope mansion and seek out the late Mr. Hope’s diamond stash before the cruel administration gets their hands on it.
It is filled with twists and turns and unexpected whimsical surprises that put kids in harms way but in a safety zone somewhere between Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and the films of Guillermo del Toro…
“The Marble Gang” must solve Rube Goldberg inspired puzzles to unlock each door along the way on their Goonies inspired adventure, using seemingly trivial items picked up along their journey, applying video game logic that is quite familiar to the target audience. The drab flesh tones and dark rooms that occupied the first half of the film are replaced with flashing lights and mechanical wonders as the gang quite literally travels through the looking glass into secret passages filled with danger and intrigue, a combination that generates “fun”, the very thing the administration of the facility was hopelessly attempting to eradicate.
Zip & Zap and the Marble Gang will entrance kids and speak to their intrinsic rebelliousness with its charms and message to never underestimate the value of fun, even if reactionary parents and cruel taskmasters have forgotten the best parts of youth and try to hammer their misguided values directly onto the next generation and become dumbfounded when they move out of the way. It is filled with twists and turns and unexpected whimsical surprises that put kids in harms way but in a safety zone somewhere between Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and the films of Guillermo del Toro, making it just dangerous enough to be fun for the whole family.
Zip & Zap and the Marble Gang will entrance kids and speak to their intrinsic rebelliousness with its charms and message to never underestimate the value of fun, even if reactionary parents and cruel taskmasters have forgotten the best parts of youth.