The Elfkins – Baking a Difference – Film Review

Palace Electric and Hoyts cinemas from 14 January 2021
Family CG-animated feature, 78 min
Parental guidance recommended for younger children

The legendary HEINZELMÄNNCHEN of Cologne were gnomes secretly finishing craftmen’s work at night until they were ousted by a tailor’s malevolent wife 200 years ago.

Ever since then, the Heinzels have been hiding in a secret underground habitation where any contact with the upper world – and, most of all, with humans – is strictly forbidden. But one day, lively Heinzel girl Helvi decides that she cannot stand the restriction of this little world any longer.

Together with two companions, the Heinzel boys Kipp and Buck (German: Butz), she climbs up to the earth’s surface, determined to find her true calling. After hilarious adventures, Helvi’s growing friendship with the initially grumpy pastry chef Theo enables her and all the other Heinzels to find their true purpose in life: helping others.

We have come to expect a high level of slickness with animated features these days. In this film the scenes and characters meet expectations. As an adult viewer I am therefore looking for something more, which I guess could be termed intellectual rigour or moral substance.

This movie explores the issues of individual competitiveness versus working together as a group. The main message from this movie is that things work out better if we work together. Parents and children discussing what they have seen might cover the ideas of persistence, kindness, forgiveness and team spirit.

The adult human characters are prime examples of disillusionment – Theo has a failed bakery business while his brother Bruna runs a successful modernised bakery over the road, albeit serving up sub-standard baked goods. 

Theo symbolises the traditional old-fashioned values of excellence and customer service – the business nevertheless has failed under the impact of his more modern funky competitor. He and his entrepreneurial (somewhat gangster like brother Bruno) hold a long-standing grudge, and we see how unproductive this is and how it merely generates its own negativity.  Helping people we might consider to be our enemies is thus another important theme.

Audiences used to American animated product may find that this German production requires more work. Even at 78 minutes it feels a little long though it does also feel like one that could well spawn a TV series. The fact that our lead character is a feisty and capable female will please those struggling against gender stereotypes and male domination of the hero space.

Canberra Times reviewer Ron Cerebona says: The Elfkins: Baking a Difference is pleasant, harmless holiday fare provided you don’t mind the occasional mild toilet joke.

Due to some violence, name calling and slightly scary scenes, the film is deemed by most reviewers to be suitable for ages 6 plus.