As the Cartoon Channel original ‘Firebreather’ opens, we view a styled animation sequence narrated by Duncan Rosenblatt (Jesse Head) telling his audience of a war years ago between man and the Kaiju, a breed of giant monsters of varying abilities. During this fight it was gloomy for the humans before Duncan’s mom Margaret (Dana Delaney) saved the day. That was also the Day Duncan’s mom met Duncan’s dad, the 200 foot fire breathing leader of this crew, Belloc (Kevin Michael Richardson). While the biology behind this union is baffling, we will roll with it for now. Some sixteen years later this unholy union has given us the orange skinned, blonde haired, charcoal eating bundle of teen angst, our narrator Duncan. Throughout the course of this little movie Duncan will have a number of terrifying things to navigate, reuniting with his old man, the potential destruction of the planet earth… but the most terrifying of all… high school. Good luck with that Duncan.
So Duncan is like on his sixth high school, always getting the boot for fighting, and he’s not at this school for more than a minute when he gets picked on by Troy (Jesse Keaton) the stock school bully. Duncan swallows his pride this time around because he has his eye on the Jenna (Amy Davidson), the hottest girl in school because everyone knows hot chicks did blonde cats with orange skin, scales and who breathe fire. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves because Duncan hasn’t quite figured out how breathe fire as of yet.
Since Duncan is half monster and all, super secret agent Barnes (Reed Diamond) is always nearby, this time pretending to be the gym teacher just to keep Duncan out of trouble. Like when he and Troy and Troy’s bully friends get into the big battle ending with Duncan burping fire on the poor boy. Now Agent Barnes has to convince Troy that he was just confused, but Troy knows a freak when he sees one.
Then at a local school party Duncan meets dad for the first time. Dad completely wrecks this party to get to his son, when he probably could’ve just sent him a text if he wanted a meet and greet, but apparently this isn’t how the Kaiju operate. Belloc feels it is time to develop his son’s latent skills, against the wishes of his Kaiju brethren, but where Duncan could only burp fire before meeting dad, now he can do all kinds of cool monster stuff.
Duncan’s new monster skills will come in handy because it’s prom night, Duncan has somehow managed to secure Jenna as his prom date and apparently the other Kaiju monsters are none too happy they weren’t invited and crash the festivities. Dad will be of no help because he’s gotten himself locked up so it will be all up to Duncan, his mom, and Duncan’s prom date… it’s complicated… to save the world. Hopefully, this time, Duncan’s mom won’t have to lay it down before another monster to save us this time around. Talk about taking one for the team.
I gotta admit that I did find the whole monster / human romance thing a little disturbing. Mom was about to inform her son how she and his dad worked out the physical complexities of this relationship, but Duncan stopped her because what son wants to know that? I wanted to know though… seriously. Belloc does sound a little like Barry White so I guess I could understand how he could run some game on a honey, but it is still a little disturbing. Another thing that was a little odd was that Barnes the agent kept trying get mom to go out with him. He does know her last man was a 200 foot monster, right? Personally I’d be a little insecure trying to follow that.
But that whole inappropriate biology thing aside, ‘Firebreather’ was pretty decent, action filled, teen angst filled entertainment. The animation was old school ‘Tripping the Rift’ style featuring human characters that looked like they were molded from plastic, complete with G.I. Joe style hair and stiff movements, but I don’t think director Peter Chung was shooting for photorealism over here so it worked for this particular movie. It worked better for the monsters since the creatures aren’t beholden to human movements and the monsters were well designed and fairly oppressive.
The movie did have a ‘pilot’ feel to it considering we were introduced to all of these characters over the relatively short running time of the movie with only a brief introduction to these characters, as if future episodes are in store which I can neither confirm nor deny. But the story supporting this plethora of characters was a good one, at least as far as the whole monster / son thing goes. The teen angst angle and Duncan’s tendency to whine and scream incessantly tended to grate on a nerve after a while, but he is a teenager. I have one of those at home and they suck. By ‘suck’ I mean I love him very much and I look forward to the day he becomes a functional member of society in someone else’s house.
‘Firebreather’ isn’t groundbreaking in the fields of animation, storytelling or execution in anyway, but it is a solid TV-movie. Just try to block the inner workings of human / monster love out your mind and you should have no problems enjoying this different presentation of teen-angst, monster style.