REVIEW: “Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken” Is a Heartfelt Kid’s Film About Mother-Daughter Love

DreamWorks Pictures’ newest animated film comes in the form of a young teenage kraken who, despite all efforts, struggles to have a normal life on the surface pretending to be a human girl.

Though the premise sounds simple and involves, dare I say, an overused trope, “Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken” was still quite a delight to watch with its dazzling visual effects, memorable characters, and a twist that no one could have ever predicted.

Ruby Gillman teenage kraken

(from left) Ruby Gillman (Lana Condor) and Grandmamah (Jane Fonda) in DreamWorks Animation’s Ruby Gillman Teenage Kraken, directed by Kirk DiMicco.

“Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken” (starring Lana Condor of the “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” franchise) follows the titular character—quirky, a math geek, and anxiety-ridden—who, after unwittingly disobeying her mother’s rule to never go into the ocean, discovers that she can transform into a giant kraken, due to her royal lineage which her mother kept secret from her for 15 years. Ruby then embarks on a journey to reunite with her grandmamah, the Kraken Queen, and unlock her true potential, which involves mastering her powers like shooting lasers out of her eyes.

There’s a lot going on throughout the movie, though, as a consequence of Ruby’s kraken “rebirth.” Firstly, her entire school becomes terrified of this new monstrosity which adds more pressure on Ruby’s shoulders. There’s also a cute boy that Ruby has been wanting to ask out to Prom but can’t out of fear that he’ll catch on to her facade. Meanwhile, there’s a new girl in town who seems to fit right in despite revealing herself to Ruby as a mermaid. There’s also a cranky old sailor who is desperate to catch her in the sea. On top of that, her anger towards her mom grows with the more secrets her mom is keeping from her.

The fast-paced storytelling works in that it never dwells too long on a scene that it’ll bore you, and doesn’t rush you through either before you get a sense of what exactly is going on. There are plenty of surprising twists too that lead up to an epic sea battle in front of the entire town, which ends with all the humans welcoming Ruby and her kraken family with open arms.

Ruby Gillman teenage kraken

But it’s the moral of the story that will tug your heartstrings. Ruby spends most of the film resenting her mom for not telling her the truth about her lineage and, later, for not supporting her decision that she doesn’t realize will actually harm the kraken species. But as her mom’s kooky little brother tells her, everything her mom did and sacrificed was for her sake—to have a life that her mom figured would be safe for her to live. And the movie doesn’t dismiss her mom’s actions as utterly justified; rather, it proves to us that moms, in general, aren’t perfect. We just need to spare a moment to talk and listen to each other without judgment, without anger, and without all the half-truths.

All in all, it’s a cute movie that anyone, from kids to the kids-at-heart, will enjoy as an easy weekend watch with family.

“Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken” is directed by Academy Award®-nominated filmmaker Kirk Demicco (“Vivo,” “The Croods”) and produced by Kelly Cooney Cilella, p.g.a. (“Trolls World Tour,” “Trolls”), with Faryn Pearl (“The Croods: A New Age,” “Trolls World Tour”) serving as co-director. Apart from Condor, it stars Toni Collette, Colman Domingo, Blue Chapman, and Jane Fonda.

It will premiere in cinemas nationwide starting June 28.

(ALSO READ: The Super Mario Bros. Movie: A Charming Adventure You Can’t Help But Love)

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