Trevor Hardy’s debut feature Strike is an entertaining if overlong animation which tells the story of a shortsighted young Mole who dreams of footballing stardom, but who has to follow in his father’s footsteps and work down the mine. The film is produced by Hove animation studio Gigglefish which prides itself in its environmentally friendly sets which were created using recycled (or upcycled) everyday products.
For as long as he can remember, all Mungo (voiced by Horrid Henry’s Lizzie Waterworth) has ever wanted was to be a footballer. Despite being told by everyone around him that sports aren’t suitable for him, but should be left to stronger more athletic animals such lions and gazelles, the young mole still believes that he can overcome his shortcomings to become the greatest player that has ever lived.
Mungo’s luck changes overnight when he an inventor friend makes him a pair of goggles that give the young mole 20/20 vision and instant sporting success. Soon Mungo becomes a legendary sporting hero, earning him a place as a striker in the national team.
With frequent gags and some commendable voiceover work, Strike works a charm, but only to a certain extent. A subplot about a mining takeover featuring a fat cat boss (literally a cat stroking a mouse a la James Bond villain, voiced by Ken Stott), is undeniably weaker narratively and feels as though it was added on second-thought to pad out an already overstretched narrative.
Overall, Strike presents an understated DIY aesthetic thanks to its knitted puppets and painstaking stop motion animation work. It is also elevated by the sheer attention to detail paid to each individual puppet and their settings. That being said, sadly the story feels a little too muddled and aimless to fully function as a feature-length film. Enjoyable if overlong.
Strike is on general release from Saturday May 11th.