Agatha Christine: Next Door Spy

ACNextDoorSpy

Encyclopedia Brown.  Frank and Joe Hardy.  Nancy Drew.  Timmy Failure.  Ruby Redfort.  The Baudelaire orphans.  Artemis Fowl.

These are just some of the lead characters from detective/mystery stories written for younger children, many of which have had their own adaptations to live-action/animated movies or TV shows.  You can add another name to the list:  Agatha Christine.

This animated movie is a lot of fun, focusing on the young girl, Agatha, who sometimes went by AC, in her attempt to become a successful detective so she could save money to get a dog.  Her goal is put to the test when she and her family moved to a new home.

Along with Agatha, there is her mother, the police officer, her older sister Sarah, and her toddler brother Kevin.  The three of them are trying to get a fresh start.  However, Agatha remains interested in her detective work.

Soon, Agatha gets her first case, trying to discover who was stealing from the local store.  She has a time line to solve the case, but she is distracted by another mystery with the next door neighbor Vincent, a boy with bags in his eyes.

This reminded me a lot of the Timmy Failure: Mistakes were Made film from Disney +.  Young kid wants to be a detective, has an active imagination and works cases.  Much like that film, this is very family friendly and actually has a nice little mystery that develops over the course of the narrative.  Then, Timmy Failure has a polar bear, Agatha has an animal in her life too.  This was the strangest part of this entire film.

We see that Agatha had found an egg and she was taking care of it.  The egg hatched, revealing a young Varanen, a monitor lizard.  Thing was that this animal talked.  The inclusion of this monitor lizard was bizarre.  The lizard seemed to be very verbally abusive toward Agatha, tying to convince her to get focused back on her robbery case.  He was also always hungry and, as he rapidly grew, he provided me with several moments where I thought he might actually be a danger.  Specifically, there were at least two occasions that I thought he had eaten the little boy, Kevin.  The use of this character was truly the oddest piece of this film.  He did create anxiety in me though as I was just not sure if this film would go to that extreme.

Everything, story-wise, fit together nicely at the end (although the whole monitor lizard thing dangled a bit) and everything worked very well.

I enjoyed the animation here for a change.  It was a different style that we have not seen before.  It was definitely a cartoon style that was simple, but worked very well with what the movie was trying to do.  The times when Agatha went into her daydreams or imagination the animation changed into black and white and really was striking.  Character design was nicely done as well, with the little touches adding traits to each of the characters.

I did have fun with this movie and I think families, kids in particular, will enjoy this movie quite a bit.  Little kids may not make the connections with the carnivorous monitor lizard that I did and may not have been as creeped out by it as I was.  They may not wonder if that lizard had eaten poor Kevin.

3.5 stars 

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