‘Orion and the Dark’ Review: A Bewildering Cartoon Bedtime Story

‘Orion and the Dark’ Review

Hey there, fellow movie enthusiasts! Today, we’re diving into the captivating world of “Orion and the Dark,” a mesmerizing cartoon bedtime story that will leave you both bewildered and entertained. Join us as we explore this unique creation and unravel the enigmatic mind of its creator, Charlie Kaufman.

A Delightfully Surprising Film

Prepare to have your expectations turned upside down, because “Orion and the Dark” is unlike any other animated film you’ve seen before.

DreamWorks Animation takes a daring leap by entrusting the brilliant mind of Charlie Kaufman, known for his thought-provoking works like “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “Adaptation,” to create a kids’ movie that tackles the fear of the dark.

Overcoming Fear in a Whimsical Way

In this computer-animated feature, Kaufman weaves a tale that resonates with both children and adults alike. The story centers around Orion, a young boy plagued by his fear of the dark.

But instead of presenting the typical monsters or boogeymen, Kaufman introduces us to Dark, a character who is both insecure and benevolent, with googly eyes and a bright Cheshire Cat smile.

A Unique Friendship

Dark, voiced by the talented Paul Walter Hauser, longs for acceptance and understanding. He takes Orion on a journey, revealing the secrets of the dark and the intricate relationship between light and night.

The friendship that blossoms between Orion and Dark forms the heart of the film, as they navigate their fears and discover the beauty that lies within the darkness.

Kaufman’s Signature Neuroses

As we immerse ourselves in the world of Orion, we can’t help but notice Kaufman’s signature neurotic touch. Orion, far from being your average fifth-grader, is burdened with fears that stretch beyond the ordinary.

From killer bees to carcinogenic cellphone waves and even “gutter clowns,” his anxieties reflect the inner workings of a screenwriter who has delved deep into the human psyche.

Relatable Fears and Emotional Depth

Kaufman’s decision to start from a place of relatability pays off, as Orion’s fears of humiliation and rejection strike a chord with audiences of all ages.

Yet, at times, the intensity of Orion’s anxiety feels almost overwhelming, bordering on the need for professional help rather than a mere representation of childhood concerns.

A Visual Feast

The animation style in “Orion and the Dark” presents a delightful contrast between different artistic approaches. While director Sean Charmatz opts for a conventional CG aesthetic, complete with bobble-headed characters, he cleverly incorporates playful colored pencil drawings to represent Orion’s fears. These whimsical sketches add a layer of creativity and animation variety to the film.

Missed Artistic Opportunities

While the animation is visually appealing, we can’t help but wonder what could have been achieved with a more expressive and artful approach. The watercolor illustrations found in Emma Yarlett’s original book could have lent a breathtaking and immersive quality to the film.

Nonetheless, the creative choices made by the DreamWorks production team still manage to captivate and engage the audience.

Explaining the Nighttime Phenomenon

One of the film’s objectives is to demystify the nighttime and make it less intimidating for young viewers. Kaufman introduces five phosphorescent friends who accompany Dark on his journey around the Earth.

While their presence adds a whimsical touch, it would have been even more effective to provide a more intuitive explanation of how nighttime works.


“Orion and the Dark” is a remarkable and bewildering cartoon bedtime story that takes viewers on an emotional journey through the fears and anxieties of a young boy.

Charlie Kaufman’s unique perspective shines through, offering a fresh take on the familiar theme of overcoming fear. With its stunning animation and thought-provoking narrative, this film is a must-watch for both children and adults.


  1. Is “Orion and the Dark” suitable for children?
    Absolutely! While the film touches on deeper themes and emotions, it does so in a way that is accessible and relatable for young viewers. It provides an opportunity for children to confront and understand their own fears.
  2. What makes “Orion and the Dark” stand out from other animated films?
    The film stands out due to its unique storytelling approach and the involvement of Charlie Kaufman, a renowned filmmaker known for his unconventional narratives. It combines whimsical animation with deeper psychological exploration, creating a thought-provoking experience.
  3. Does “Orion and the Dark” have a moral lesson?
    Yes, the film imparts a valuable lesson about facing fears and the importance of friendship. It encourages viewers to embrace the unknown and discover the hidden beauty within their anxieties.