"Let's make a feature length movie about Pororo" is kind of a weird hypothetical idea. Pororo cartoons are, by design, very simple and easily understood, with inoffensive moral lessons that shouldn't require a whole lot of effort to explain. How exactly do you make a feature length cartoon about Pororo? As "Pororo, The Racing Adventure" demonstrates, this task can be accomplished mainly by adding in a lot of fun racing scenes, and a bunch of one-off characters who are not likely to ever feature in the main cartoon.
So, in the event that you only want to watch a Pororo movie if it features lots of work from the core Pororo cast, you will be disappointed by "Pororo, The Racing Adventure". I can't imagine that anyone like that is reading this review though. Even if by some strange miracle you happen to be a grade school student who loves Pororo, I'm guessing you're probably more interested in the racing stuff than you are strict adherence to the the continuity of the Pororo universe.
Because let's face it. Pororo is popular not because it's a particularly a deep product, but for the exact opposite reason. It's easily understood. Even the franchise's name is adorable. Pororo. Go ahead, say it out loud a few times. Pororo pororo pororo. It's cute. And if you say in the presence of a toddler there's a good chance they'll just repeat the word incessantly for the next week. That's the kind of cartoon that Pororo is, and the main draw here is that the stakes are more elaborate.
Not higher stakes. After all, nobody is going to die as a result of this race, even if there are multiple loud explosions they just do the usual cartoony black soot thing all over everybody's face. Somewhat comically, there isn't even an epilogue- no dance party either. The race ends and that's it. The movie's over. Everybody has learned their lesson about being an honorable good person. Well, strictly speaking anthomorphic animals aren't people exactly but is that really what you want from "Pororo, The Racing Adventure"? A philosophical rumination on why children's cartoons often feature cute animals?
The narrative structure is simple enough. The first half is build-up to the race, explaining why Pororo and friends are involved, and how all the one-shot characters have been motivated by their own understanding of what it means to be "a champion". The second half is the actual race where, after having some characters exposed as frauds, and others as villains, we know who to root for and who to cheer against, and adults have probably figured out what lesson there is to be learned even if the kids haven't figured it out yet.
Because that's really what you want, right? A movie you can show the kids that won't morally offend you for being really stupid. Well, no worries on that. The racing in "Pororo, The Racing Adventure" does not strictly speaking make sense, but most movie racing doesn't. In any event the characters are are appealling, the slapstick amusing, and the animation pretty decent quality. "Pororo, The Racing Adventure" may not be a tribute to artform, but it's definitely fun.
Review by William Schwartz
Available on DVD from YESASIA
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Film Review] "Pororo, The Racing Adventure""
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