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Charlie Kaufman's New Kids Movie Looks Incredible

Get ready for Orion and the Dark.

A scene from 'Orion and the Dark.'

If you were the kind of person who was really into movies in the early 2000s, there’s almost a zero percent chance that you didn’t love Charlie Kaufman. From the hilarious meta-fiction of Adaptation (2002) to his unforgettable and heartbreaking script for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), Kaufman is one of the all-time greats. If you’ve missed his more recent films like the adult animated film Anomalisa (2015) and the moody I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020), then you’re forgiven. But only slightly.

In short, Charlie Kaufman is one of the most creative filmmakers and writers alive, and for parents who love his movies (and his novel!) the fact that he’s returning to do kids’ movies again is a gift. Yes, it was Kaufman who co-wrote aspects of Kung-Fu Panda 2, and now, we’re getting a new length animated Dreamworks movie from his wonderful brain. Orion and the Dark hits Netflix on February 2, 2024, and the trailer looks fantastic.

Orion and the Dark tells the story of a kid named Orion (Jacob Tremblay) who is visited by an entity called Dark (Paul Walter Hauser). Instead of Dark being a scary or weird character, the movie seems to cast Dark in a sympathetic well...err..light, which is both charming, with a huge helping of Kaufman’s signature wit and introspection. Along the way, Orion will meet Dreams (Angela Bassett), Sleep (Natasia Demetriou), and a whole host of characters representing various forces of nature.

At a glance, this might seem like a mash-up of Inside Out meets Elemental, but because Kaufman is the writer here, we’re betting this Dreamworks offering will be even better than those Pixar films. With a dash Lemony Snicket-esque dark humor, combined with Kaufman’s knack for turning everyday experiences into epic stories, Orion and the Dark could be your kids’ next favorite movie. If you’re among the people who cite any of Kaufman’s other films as movies that changed your life, then perhaps, if we’re lucky, Orion and the Dark might do the same for your family.

Orion and the Dark is on Netflix on February 2.