With the world in the midst of a global pandemic, fabled international animation festival Annecy has been forced to move online, with a number of high-profile presentations available to view right now.
One of those presentations is for Sony Pictures Animation’s Connected. The animated feature, co-written and directed by Gravity Falls secret weapon Mike Rianda, and concerns an average, mildly dysfunctional American family that is forced to deal with the robot uprising (you hate to use the word “apocalypse” when describing a family movie). Connected, co-starring Maya Rudolph, Eric Andre, and Olivia Colman, is due out in theaters (god willing) on October 23rd, and as part of the presentation, the filmmakers debuted the first clip from the movie – and it’s a stunner.
The clip (which is not available online yet) begins with Rick (Danny McBride) explaining to his daughter Katie (Abbi Jacobson) that instead of flying to college, the family is going to take two weeks to drive her there. (Rudolph plays the mom and Rianda the socially awkward little brother.) Katie is, of course, very upset. She has mixers to go to and new friends to meet and form lifelong bonds with.
But in these brief early moments of the clip, you can already tell that the look of Connected is very different: color and textures are applied where you can actually see the virtual brushstrokes (a similar process was initially planned for Tangled, back when animation master Glen Keane was directing). There are additional elements borrowed from 2D, including a huge emphasis on linework: the expressive lines on the characters faces and the collar of Rick’s jacket has swirling squiggles, for instance, or the moment right after Katie learns of her imminent road trip, where we see a crude, cartoon-ish Katie rising up in agony (her character is an artist and the moment is captured in her exaggerated art style). It cannot be overstated how gorgeous (and how different) Connected looks. It appears to be just as bold and groundbreaking as Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Sony Pictures Animation’s last game-changer, but feels somewhat braver since it doesn’t have the built-in latitude of being based in a comic book world. This is the real world but hyper expressive and stylized, combining elements of 2D animation with computer generated imagery for a singularly intoxicating aesthetic that heightens both the danger and the emotion of the story.
The rest of the clip is a montage of the beginnings of the road trip, with Katie making a home movie about what a disaster it is – they go to a very gross roadside diner, get pulled over by a cop after Rick attempts a dangerous maneuver to get around traffic, and, most hilariously, take an ill-fated mule tour. There is also a moment teased in the theatrical trailer, where Katie makes the family dog Monchi repeatedly lick Rick’s face. It is a hoot.
Produced by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the same mad scientist geniuses behind Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, The Lego Movie and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Connected looks to push the boundaries of what a mainstream animated film can really be, yet again.