Riddle of Fire Review | A Bonkers Neo-Fairytale


Summary

  • Riddle of Fire is a whimsical kids’ adventure movie with mature themes, and it’s sometimes hard to tell who it’s for.
  • This film captures childhood curiosity and features excellent young actors, along with a great turn from Lio Tipton.
  • The imaginative storytelling and lush visuals make this a compelling if sometimes frustrating watch.



Earlier this century, Maurice Sendak’s iconic children’s book, Where the Wild Things Are, was turned into a feature film by none other than Spike Jonze. The adaptation, however, was no kids’ movie — but rather, a movie about kids. See what we mean? A similar argument could be made about Riddle of Fire, the debut feature from Utah writer-director Weston Razooli. On the surface, this lush fantasy film may seem right up your kid’s alley. But ultimately, it’s perhaps better suited for adults.

Hey, maybe it actually walks a fine line, and two things can be true: It’s a kids’ movie made for grown-ups. Either way, the end result — which premiered at last year’s coveted Cannes Film Festival — may seem to drag on for far too long, but this head trip of a moviegoing experience might just make stoners everywhere lose their minds in a uniquely childish sort of way.



Speckled Eggs, Locked TVs and More

Riddle of Fire (2024)

3/5

Release Date
March 22, 2024

Director
Weston Razooli

Cast
Lio Tipton , Charles Halford , Weston Razooli , Lorelei Olivia Mote , Austin Archer , Abigail Sakari , Phoebe Ferro , Charlie Stover

Runtime
113 Minutes

Writers
Weston Razooli

Studio
Yellow Veil, Vinegar Syndrome

Pros

  • The direction and cinematography is inventive and interesting.
  • A film that really taps into the aimless curiosity of being a kid, with some great child actors (and an excellent Lio Tipton).
Cons

  • The film goes on too long and doesn’t add up to a lot.

Don’t you hate it when you’re locked out of your friend’s shared Netflix account? Imagine embarking on an epic quest to make the perfect dessert, all in the name of nabbing said friend’s password to regain access. This is the ingenuity behind the modern-day fairytale that is Riddle of Fire, as a trio of kids — Jodie (Skyler Peters), Hazel (Charlie Stover), and Alice (Phoebe Ferro) — struggle to unlock the TV at Jodie and Skylar’s house.


The kids are desperately trying to geek out to a new video game, so they march upstairs to find Jodie and Skylar’s mom, Julie (Danielle Hoetmer), bedridden with the flu. Of course, this responsible parent refuses to share the TV password and instead urges the kiddies to go outside and enjoy the sunshine. But it’s not that simple for the young ones, as they put their heads together and concoct what they think is the perfect plan: Bake Julie her favorite dessert, a delicious blueberry pie, to get the code. The kicker? They need to track down a key ingredient first: a speckled egg.

A Colorful and Imaginative Adventure Through the Kids’ Perspective

This all seems like pretty straightforward storytelling tropes, but writer-director Razooli sprinkles fantastical charm across virtually every element. After all, it’s not just an egg, but rather a speckled egg they need. The way the TV screen looks when the kids try to enter the correct password seems like something out of a Zelda cutscreen. There is a similar fantasy-like effect when they look through the camera lenses of their smartphones as well. Technology transforms perception.


Plus, the movie is shot on lush 16mm film, with a rich, green-heavy color palette that resembles any given fantastical children’s book you read during your youth. It also helps that the story is set in beautiful, tucked-away Wyoming, and watching a unique feature like Riddle of Fire might make you wish that more movies and TV shows were shot in such a picturesque location.

Related

20 Underrated Fantasy Movies From the 2000s

With some of the best fantasy films of all time releasing throughout the 2000s, it makes sense that these 20 flew under the radar.

As the kids venture out to the grocery store while Mom sleeps away her illness, the adult strangers they meet along the way couldn’t act more strangely — but not necessarily in a creepy way, though there is hostility aplenty. Think throwback classics like The Goonies, blended with any one of the beloved children’s novels out there, such as The Chronicles of Narnia. Watch as the kids battle crazed poachers and end up at a booze-soaked house party throwing back 40s of malt liquor as the kids plead for one of their supposed speckled eggs.


Yes, this is a wild ride, and no wonder the main young girl’s name is Alice — after all, they do venture into a sort of Wyoming version of Wonderland. And although the kids’ acting isn’t exactly on par with, say, season one of Netflix’s Stranger Things, they’re still a hoot to watch, even if certain sequences drag on for a bit too long.

Nice to See You, Lio Tipton

The mischievous kids also pick up a charming little companion along their bonkers odyssey and quest for the infamous ingredient. Enter Petal (Lorelei Olivia Mote), who ditches her gun-wielding mother Anna-Freya, played to perfection by Lio Tipton. Fans of classic romantic comedies might remember her unintentionally stealing a young boy’s heart in Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011).


In Riddle of Fire, the charming actress ditches the makeup and replaces beauty with motherly grit and a no-nonsense disposition that sometimes leads to her firing off her handgun at anyone giving her a hard time. That includes fellow hunter Charles (the hilarious John Redrye), who the kids have also tracked down ever since Charles snagged the last carton of speckled eggs from the local grocery store. Director Razooli even plays a role here, as the slightly dimwitted husband to Anna-Freya.

Related

The 20 Funniest Kids Movies of the 2010s, Ranked

These 20 kid’s movies from the 2010s are just as laugh-out-loud funny for adults as they are for children of all ages.


It’s all a bit odd in terms of storytelling beats, but perhaps that’s the point. CHildhood is chaotic and confusing; the kids want to stream Netflix on their TV and find an artificial piece of entertainment, but real life has very different elements. With a new addition like Riddle of Fire out to the masses, it’s clear that kid-friendly adventures aren’t dead. After all, The NeverEnding Story is getting rebooted, and who knows what Disney has in the works for the next year and beyond? Chances are, it won’t be as odd and adventurous as this.

In the meantime, from Yellow Veil and Vinegar Syndrome, Riddle of Fire is now playing in theaters.



.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *