If at all a poll is conducted as to who is considered among the top 5 Malayalam actresses of all time, one name which is likely to figure in it will be Manju Warrier. She is held at such high esteem that when she announced her return back to films a year back, there were news that scripts were being drafted keeping her in mind & even the movies which subsequently released proved that to be true. Her latest release "Jo & the Boy" is helmed by Rojin Thomas & hopefully, this movie will make use of her talent & be able to make its presence felt this X'mas. Hmm...so does it do so???
Jo (Manju Warrier) is a zestful & sprightly animator who makes repeated futile efforts to make herself conspicuous in the eyes of some leading animation agency. Things take a turn when an innocent & talented boy named Criz (Sanoop Santhosh), walks into her life. Even though they didn't quite hit off in the right note initially, with time both of them becomes fond of each other. Criz proves to be an inspiration for Jo in the creation of an animation character which becomes an overnight sensation around the world. But with fame & money, arrogance & ego clashes sets in that creates cracks in their relationship which forms the crux of the movie.
After having won the State Award for the Best Children's movie for "Philips & the Monkey Pen" in 2013; Rojin Thomas has stuck onto a similar genre in his latest venture also. However, this time around the canvas is more expansive & the subject that he tackles is more complex. The idea of character animation is really impressive but the actual execution of it seemed far too simplistic & barely gets much attention. I do understand that Rojin wanted to focus his attention on the relationship of the protagonists, but in the second half I didn't feel he has done justice to that aspect as well. The choice of Kodaikanal as the location was a delight to the eyes & kudos to Neil D Cunha for the pristine visuals. A word of mention for the visual effects & animation which I felt was done well. Rahul Subramanian's music was in sync with the mood of the movie such as "Do Do Do" and "Ponveyil Veezhave" while Rahman Mohammed ought to have done a better job with the editing as it seemed a shade too long.
Manju Warrier as expected was fantastic in the role that was offered to her & does manage to carry the movie even when the screenplay lets it down. On par or maybe at times (especially towards the climax), even better than Manju was Sanoop's performance & should scoop up the Best Child Artist award yet again. Pearley, Lalu Alex, Kiran, Kalaranjini etc have done a credible as the support cast though the antagonists seemed pretty lame for my liking.
Verdict: It goes without saying that a movie of this genre works on the support that it garners from the word of mouth. However, unlike Rojin's debut venture this one isnt going to bull doze its way to commercial success. There is no doubt in the sincere effort that has gone into the thinking of the script, but the execution was found wanting. In short, it might break even at the most & with more entertaining movies on offer this X'mas; you can check this out after the rest!!!