The Stolen Lyric is an animated feature that basically takes the classic Robin Hood tale and reimagines it through a punk opera lens. But what exactly does constitute the label “punk opera” anyway? Director Chase Peter Garrettson throws spoken dialogue out the window and opts to tell its story entirely through song fragments directly lifted from pop culture’s most iconic artists throughout the years. Robin Hood is now simply Rob, lead musician in a rock band known as The Merry; together they take from the rich, give to the poor and, along the way, clash heads with their former-bandmate-turned-corporate-tycoon Sheriff.
What I do respect the most out of this is its DIY upbringing, all animated by Anthony Morris Jr; it’s definitely an aspect that lives up to the film’s punk spirit. The music used can be a bit of a different story; that is, unless you have a flexible opinion on what counts as “punk.” The soundtrack is quite akin to your usual twenty-something male’s playlist; mainly rock that spans the decades, a touch of pop and a bit of rap thrown in for good measure. But disparate elements like these can have a way of really coming together, sometimes in surprising ways, when there’s a sure, eclectic voice at the helm.
So… why did I come out of this with no clue how to feel? I don’t mean this as some compliment to an ambivalent ending; I mean where were the moments that let you know when to actually care about anything that’s happened? There is practically no character development to be found, save for maybe the antagonist’s backstory. What doesn’t help either is the way the direction’s so preposterously static that you constantly feel it, save for a certain scene towards the end involving drugs. This comes from the realm where you have limited means at your disposal; I understand that, yet there had to have been so many more inventive ways to incorporate that anti-flashy feel into the narrative. More than anything else though, it all seems to come off as an exercise to see if one really can string these songs together to form a vague narrative over the course of 110 minutes. Lyrically they do, but nearly every moment in itself commits the worse crime a film revolved around music can commit: have choppy rhythm.
It’s honestly disappointing, because there are some clever meta-details behind the conception itself; the Robin Hood parallels practically write themselves. The plot was already spare enough to begin with, nothing wrong with that, but then it gets spread out way too thin. When there’s not much of that to chew on, what exactly else will hold your attention? The choppy, stitched music? The animation? It could’ve gathered its best components to make a tighter one-hour film; but as it stands right now, it can be a tedious chore to get through.
The Stolen Lyric (2016) Written and Directed by: Chase Peter Garrettson.
3 out of 10