Film Review: Jacob, Mimmi and the Talking Dogs

Edmunds Jansons’ Jacob, Mimmi and the Talking Dogs is an amiable animated adventure with a strong message at its core.

When his father goes on a business trip, Jacob goes to stay in the Riga suburb of Maskachka with his cousin Mimmi. When the local park is earmarked as the site of a new skyscraper, Jacob and Mimmi enlist the help of a pack of talking dogs to stop construction…

Directed and co-written by Edmunds Jansons (with co-writer Liga Gaisa), Jacob, Mimmi and the Talking Dogs is a family-friendly animated film. The film focuses on two children’s fight to stop construction that will destroy the look and ambience of a neighbourhood. Along the way, protagonist Jacob goes on a metaphorical journey of his own.

The narrative takes a little bit of time to get going. The film does lack momentum to begin with, as the narrative focuses on Jacob’s reluctance to stay with his uncle and cousin, and his initially abrasive relationship with Mimmi. Once the main narrative of the park destruction gets going, along with the appearance of the talking dogs, the film shifts to a more engaging gear. The gang of dogs are an important addition, bringing laughs and giving the movie a spark.

Jacob, Mimmi and the Talking Dogs touches on an interesting subject for a family film, which is the struggle between idealism and realism. This idea is presented in a very digestible way, and exists within the wider context of environmentalism versus economic prosperity. Gentrification is referenced explicitly, albeit in a humorous fashion. The film presents its message in an entertaining manner. 

Animation in the film has a charming effect. There is a contrast between the detail and sometimes delicate backgrounds and the broad style of the humans. Jansons and the film’s animators have created a two-dimensional look, with the protagonists looking almost like paper dolls. It is a distinctive and likeable style.

With Jacob, Mimmi and the Talking Dogs, Jansons combines humour with adventure to deliver a message that should resonate with young and old alike.

Jacob, Mimmi and the Talking Dogs is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2019.

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