Creative, colorful, and unexpectedly wise, “The Painting” is the latest offshore animation to show to kids burned out on computer-generated Hollywood toons. It’s another gift from GKIDS, the US distributor of films like “Azur and Asmar,” “Sita Sings the Blues,” and “The Secret of Kells,” and it tells a classic quest story with unexpected twists.
For one thing, most of the action takes place inside a dusty painting hanging on an artist’s studio wall. At first glance, it’s just a landscape with castle, but as the camera moves in, we discover a busy, stratified society of inhabitants. The ruling Alldunns, sniffy and superior, are finished creations painted in stately hues, while the Halfies are missing swatches of color and are relegated to living in the castle gardens. At the bottom of this caste system are the Sketchies, straggly line drawings chased for sport and treated cruelly by the Alldunns.