Poupelle of Chimney Town is an absolutely delightful story of a young introverted chimney sweep named Lubicchi and the magical pile of garbage that becomes his new best friend. Set in Chimney Town—“a world of day and night wrapped in smoke”—where the sky is completely covered, the prospect of ‘stars’ is simply a fairytale. But could a world exist beyond the black smoke? Lubicchi’s father Bruno certainly thought so. He would go around spreading the idea that a whole world functions outside of their unfortunate situation. “Keep on looking, keep on believing,” Bruno would tell his son, spreading his message of looking up for the stars. As the town’s Halloween celebration approaches, Lubicchi wraps himself in his work just before he meets the magical Poupelle. With a dash of the magical Frosty and the Snowman and a sprinkle of Studio Ghibli world-building, Poupelle of Chimney Town is heartwarming, feel-great entertainment.
The biggest draw here is the Ghibli-esque animation style. Oftentimes, I was completely blown away by the sheer scope of this fantastical little world of chimney sweeps, magic garbage, and Halloween celebrations! The beauty of the imagery in any single given frame takes one’s breath away. Predictable sequences like a mine cart chase are made less generic thanks to a frenetic filming style that takes the viewer on an amusement-park ride. The gorgeously-animated framing pops, and elevates the most rudimentary of actions into a masterwork.
Among the cutesy style, believing in yourself and your dreams, as well as a shockingly emotional backstory about Bruno, mold Poupelle of Chimney Town into something special. Toss in mysteries and background about the town itself, a quirky mine bandit named Scoop, commentary on consumerism, and a very cute ending that fits the movie like a glove, and there is little to complain about here.
One thing I found to be lacking in Poupelle is the existence of a campy and memorable villain. There certainly is a villainous presence in the film, but he is not utilized nearly enough to leave a mark. “Any threat to our peace will be eliminated,” he insists ominously. Instead of being campy and involved, he is rather more omnipresent, pulling the strings from behind the scenes. In live action, a bit of wiggle room exists. A dialed-up baddie executed intelligently would be the perfect cherry on top of this entertaining animated film with a great message. With only minor issues and majorly beautiful, fully-realized art design, Poupelle of Chimney Town is a terrific movie the whole family will enjoy.
Poupelle of Chimney Town screened at the 2021 Animation is Film Festival.