“Chickenhare and the Hamster of Darkness” is a straight-up “Raiders of the Lost Ark” send-up about “embracing” your unique self because “Our differences are what make us special.”
It’s a European production based on a comic book by Chris Grines, with lets of action — much of it derived from the Indiana Jones movies — some splendid design and a couple of very clever sight gags.
But dull? If you’re old enough to read reviews, you might want to leave this on for the kids and find something else to do elsewhere in the house. Or the yard.
The quest is for a magical idol, with sea journeys, a trek across “The Desert of Death,” an ancient temple, a “legend,” and a map activated by sunlight at a particular hour of the day,
“Where’s the ‘X?’ Don’t most treasure maps have an ‘X’ that marks the spot?”
There it is.
“Oops! Darn tropes!”
Chickenhare, voiced by Jordan Tatakow, is a foundling, discovered by his adventurer dad and uncle. They’re in line for the throne of the kingdom that they’re from, a place that holds Royal Adventurer’s Society Tryouts, which Chickenhare fails.
He’s already insecure about being half-chicken, half rabbit. He wears hats and fur-covered boots to seem “just like everybody else.”
His father the king’s advice about accepting himself, and the fact that he’s flunked his one shot at the Royal Society, is ignored. Chickenhare fetches a fedora, leather jacket and bullwhip and sets out to find the treasure that eluded his dad and his treacherous brother Lapin (Danny Fehsenfeld) failed to find many years before.
That’s how Lapin escapes from prison to go on his own quest, to acquire the magical idol and seize power for himself.
Chickenhare is accompanied by turtle-servant Abe, voiced by Joey Lotsko, doing Woody Allen kvetching and shtick.
“Why can’t I ever meet anyone who shares my skepticism?”
And the “muscle” of their group is Meg (Laila Berzins), a skunk who was once so embarrassed by being different that she “corked” herself…for years.
The one-liners are limp jokes about assorted earlier or later quests, for “The Holy Spork” or “The Fountain of Middle Age.” The fact that the voice cast is more competent than comical or charismatic works against the one-liners.
But the best sight gag is a winner. The trio run afoul of “pigmies,” Minion like volcanic island piglets whose groupthink solutions to problems involves using their uniform shape to create Lego-like walls, traps and the like, teeming around the three as they try to toss them into their sacred volcano.
Nothing else in “Chickenhare” really registers. It’s a message with a half-hearted harebrained movie painted around it.
Rating: TV-Y, kid-friendly
Cast: The voices of Jordan Tartakow, Laila Berzins, Danny Fehsenfeld and Joey Lotsko
Credits: Directed by Ben Stassen and Benjamin Mousquet, scripted by Dave Collard, based on a graphic novel by Chris Grine. A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:31