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Animated family musical — coming of age, journey home, buddy film
Critter version of the 1800’s.
Squirrel Borough — Treetop squirrel version of NYC row-houses and bridges over a river. Wood and brick, no engines, powered by water-wheels.
Raven Steam: Iron Cliff — Steampunk cliffside colony for ravens, mostly iron, like European industrial revolution.
Critterritti River — Like the Mississippi River, Mark Twain era, from log rafts to steam paddle boats, with small towns and an old house on an abandoned island.
Croaken Cove — Cajun frog colony of stilted swamp houses, like a Louisiana bayou.
— A squirrel in her final year of high school. She feels pressured to pick a college or career, but she doesn’t really apply herself. She follows her friends, who get her in trouble often.
(American Red Squirrel)
Corva — A steampunk raven from another high school. A foil to Rayli, she knows she wants to be an engineer, but she focuses too much on grades.
(Common Raven, Irish accent)
Pirate Gators — Capt. Toothmouth and his aggravating crew Swash & Swabber who decide to unionize.
(American Alligator, Pirate accent)
Raccoon Con Artists — Mamma Jynx and her kids Swindle, Swizzle, and Fleece.
(Common Raccoon, Boston accent)
Cajun Frogs — Craw, Frolly, and colony of frogs in Croaken Cove.
Steamboat Turtle — Langehorne, a wise old steamboat pilot.
Encouraging girls to pursue STEM fields.
Being open to opportunity instead of forcing it.
Working for internal satisfaction over external rewards.
I’ve never seen any other animated films about the final stage of growing up: deciding to leave home and choosing a path — “What do I want to be?”. Many are adjacently about adolescence (Onward, How to Train Your Dragon), leaving for college (Mitchells vs. the Machines), starting a career (Zootopia, Princess and the Frog), or running away (Little Mermaid, Tangled), but this major life decision is unexplored.
Rayli is a high school squirrel playing with her friends. She gets in trouble because of them. After class, her opossum teacher Mrs. Marple asks her if she’s going to college, but she doesn’t know what she wants to do. Mrs. Marple tells her she has a lot of potential but doesn’t apply herself. That evening at dinner, Rayli’s mom complains that her friends are a bad influence. Her father asks her if she’s decided on a college, and suggests med school like her older sister. Frustrated, Rayli goes to her room and sings about wanting to find her spark.
Rayli is inspired by a student I had as a teacher. She was bright and got an A, but she failed many classes, much to the frustration of her parents and teachers. Her close friend in that same class was a troublesome student and failed (again). I could see her loyalty to her friend was holding her back.
Corva is inspired by another student. She was very bright, but obsessed with trying to get 100%. So I stopped giving her grades and told her to do it for the pride and satisfaction instead of the grade.
The concept is inspired by Mark Twain, mostly the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn — adventures, colorful characters, rich vernacular, nostalgia, picturesque scenes, abandoned island & house, con-artists, pirates, and two characters bonding as they raft down the river — but it is not the same story (no slavery, race, abuse, or murder).