Feeling as if it came straight from the mind of Wes Anderson, stop-motion-animated Oink is a hilarious treat the whole family can enjoy! Banned for 25 years from a prestigious sausage contest, two rival butchers are back in action now for the 100th iteration. Who will be crowned Sausage King of the Century? For little Babs (Hiba Ghafry), she couldn’t possibly care less. Her family refuses to eat meat—“eating animals is barbaric!”—so she is more set on getting a pet dog for her fast-approaching birthday. When her eclectic American grandfather makes a surprising return to town, Babs is gifted with a pet, though not the one she had originally intended. Grandpa Tuitjes (Kees Prins), however, may be hiding an ominous secret of his own…
From the very beginning, in which we are given vintage-style footage of the 75th Sausage King contest, the tone of Oink is established as one of playful entertainment. Once Babs picks out the pig she names Oink (pronounced Knor in Dutch, which has a unique hardened ring to it), to say her mother isn’t exactly pleased would be an understatement. Oink proceeds to fart and poop literally everywhere, sometimes when one would least expect it. Despite refusing to use the cat litter box to empty his bowels, Oink is one of the cutest onscreen depictions of piglets I think I have ever seen.
A large part of the story deals with Grandpa Tiutjes and his efforts to fatten up Oink so that he may win the Sausage King crown. However, his intentions remain hazy. He seems on a surface level to be an amazing grandparent to Babs; although the others around them, including his daughter, seem to know that Tuitjes is up to no good. Babs has faith that Oink’s kind-hearted nature will rub off on him. Early on, Babs and her best friend, Tijn (Matsen Montsma), try to play a prank on Tuitjes by putting slugs in his bed. Instead of horrifying him in any way, the man invites them to play a game of “sluggleboard,” or shuffleboard with slugs. It is the kind of absurdist humor we love to see in this type of film.
This Dutch-language production is impressive from start to finish, reveling in poop-joke comedy while maintaining a healthy dose of heart and sharp wit. It looks beautiful as well, featuring sharp character design and world-building. I can only imagine the amount of work that went into animating it. The filmmaking style recalls The Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Boxtrolls, carving out a respectable niche for Oink to coexist amongst other stop-motion greats. It becomes virtually impossible not to fall in love with Oink / Knor the pig. As he disobeys during puppy-training courses or splatters his excrement all over the walls in the middle of a song, one must crack a smile. A high-energy conclusion channeling the hijinks of Wallace & Gromit finishes off Oink with a stunning flourish. For fans of stop-motion animation, Oink is not to be missed.
Oink screened at the 2022 Berlinale Film Festival, and brings its freshly ground sausage to the 2022 New York International Children’s Film Festival.