Animation needs good writing too, and Xico’s Journey ain’t it.
This review of Netflix film Xico’s Journey does not contain any spoilers — the Mexican family animation film was released on the streaming service on February 12, 2020.
At the face of it, Xico’s Journey bears a political message that pledges anti-fracking, such is the storyline about a girl, her dog, and best friend setting themselves on a journey to save a mountain from a greedy corporation. The end goal is gold — the film navigates a small town nearby, which is relatively unaware of corporate-speak, representing how easy it is for the wealthy to worm their way into communities, and turn them upside down.
But after the fracking statement, Netflix’s Xico’s Journey becomes an adventure-led family film, with the young girl (Copi) and her friend (Gus) realising that the pup Xico has a strong connection to the mountain, and more secrets lie within. The story gets breached with magical possibilities and mythological creatures — it escalates rather quickly, but every reveals feels like an afterthought rather than a storyboarded idea.
Xico’s Journey loses its way rather quickly; after the fracking message deteriorates and plunges into spirituality and magic within the mountain, it becomes poisoned by an imbalance of plot points. While the adults back at the village panic about the children, the story takes its sweet time to discover its purpose within the mountain. It feels like the scope is limited somewhat, and drives the audience down needless exposition for 86 minutes. This film could have easily been a thirty-minute short based on the extent of the writing, that seems to feel that a good animation will suffice. Animation needs good writing too, and Xico’s Journey ain’t it.
But then again, this is a family film, and the pup in the story is endearing and friendly, so maybe the kids will warm to it. You never know these days.