In 1940, Walter Lantz married the love of his life, Grace Stafford and took his blushing bride on what was supposed to be a romantic honeymoon in a quaint, mountain town. Unfortunately, what they weren’t expecting was an an extremely annoying fowl foiled their fun.
This little woodpecker pecked so many holes in their cabin that when it began to rain their shelter was turned into a shack. Instead of shooting the pest, Stafford convinced Lantz to create a story featuring the bird called, Knock, Knock. Now, 78 years later, the moment that ruined Lantz’s honeymoon has created the lasting legacy in the ever continuing adventures of Woody Woodpecker, a new release from Universal 1440 Entertainment.
Co-writer/Director Adam Zamm spent 12 years in resurrecting the petulant teenager that gave life to a franchise.
Listen to the full interview here:
What Zamm and co-writer, William Robertson have accomplished is a family film that not only captures the true spirit of what Lantz set out to do nearly eight decades ago, but also touch on some very heavy topics regarding environmentalism, poaching, familial ties and disconnecting from the the distractions of the external world, focusing on the here and now.
The fantastic part is that Zamm and Robertson were able to tackle all those topics without being preachy or worse, extending beyond the emotional understanding of their younger viewers, which allows the audience to think for themselves without feeling lectured.
Timothy Omundson, who plays Lance Walters and he is the redeemable villain you just love to hate. His slapstick timing in unbelievably impeccable and with a shoot schedule that was less than a month, Universal 1440 Entertainment cast the right person, who could make it look effortlessly in the least amount of takes.
One person who to keep an eye on is Graham Verchere, who plays Tommy Walters. A teen that befriends Woody and also tries to make a connection with his father while battling bullies, making new friends and learning to play a beautiful Les Paul guitar. Verchere is only 16 years old, but has a long career ahead of him, especially with his current stint on, The Good Doctor.
Rounding out the main human cast is Brazilian actress Thaila Ayala, playing Lance’s fiance, Brittany. A spoiled supermodel-esque princess that wants nothing more than for her wealthy fiance to build her the lake front house of her dreams, unfortunately for her, Woody has other plans.
The namesake of this movie is Woody Woodpecker himself, voiced by the extraordinary Eric Bauza. Bauza does a near perfect voice match for Stafford, who had the longest running stint as the world’s favorite woodpecker, but he also brings in aspects of Mel Blanc’s original take on the wide-eyed troublemaker, updating Woody for the 21st Century.
Woody Woodpecker is enjoying a Renaissance and it is all thanks to Zamm and his efforts to reintroduce Woody to the world. Maybe in the sequel we can get a few more Walter Lantz creations to face off with our fowl feathered friend.
Woody Woodpecker is out now on DVD, Digital HD and VOD in the US and in theaters in South America.
Woody Woodpecker is one of the best updates in the past decade. Alex Zamm captures everything that Walter Lantz set forth nearly eight decades ago and with this passion project coming to fruition, let’s hope we get a half-dozen more of these in the next few years.