Not before time, the kids are taking over. Well, grown-ups these days just don't cut it. Or if not kids, then a kid... Neatly dovetailing with the sentiments of Whale Rider, this animated elaboration of a Senegalese folk tale brings us (pace Rick Moranis) surely cinema's smallest hero - Kirikou, a preternaturally walking, talking, indefatigable newborn. Not one to beat around the bush, Kirikou summons his own birth aloud from inside his mother in the first minute of the film, and he's no sooner out in the world than trying to remedy it. He emerges into a village short on gold, water and menfolk, all these and more requisitioned by Karaba, the implacable sorceress down the way. 'Why?', Kirikou demands to know, and not taking 'you're too young to understand' for an answer, he quickly progresses from freeing his uncle and fellow children from the enchantress's clutches to hatching a plan to dig beneath Karaba's encampment to the wise man of the mountain on the other side. All this, and still the villagers doubt his worth... At least they know how to beat the drum when fortune favours them (music courtesy of Youssou N'Dour).
The director animates the tale in a simple but unsparing chromatic style, typically using two-dimensional profile perspectives. Perhaps they've taken a lesson from the protagonist: for all the film's sense of magic, Kirikou turns out to be a level-headed logician at heart, thinking out his dilemmas in delightful internal monologues. It's a great package: salutary, short (74 minutes) and sweet.