Freddy is to succeed his heroic father, Flasheart Lupin (Jai Courtney), now dead, as leader of the pack – the High Howler. And his coming-of-age ceremony involves a full moon, together with a spectacular transmutation witnessed by a company of distinguished werewolves with glittering gaze and very large teeth. During this ritual, he’s supposed to assume his werewolf form for the first time and become the most ferocious of them all. But something goes wrong and he’s changed into a miniature poodle with droopy ears and an embarrassing pompadour. His disgusted relatives give him until the next moonrise to do something about it. Otherwise, it’s banishment.
Directed by Alexs Staderman, Flying Bark’s creative director, who spent seven years working as a Disney animator, the film rockets along but there’s nothing hasty or half-hearted about its style. It’s packed with witty visual gags, enhanced by classy lighting, and its large cast – human, lupine and canine – are graced by an inventive set of eccentricities.
Having been cast out to fend for himself, Freddy quickly finds some unlikely allies in a gang of stray dogs led by a streetsmart brown mongrel with blonde streaks and the voice of Samara Weaving. Known as the Great Houndini, she helps him elude the dogcatcher until they’re both tossed into the pound. But first comes a demeaning visit to a canine beauty parlour managed by a sleek variation on Cruella de Vil voiced by the towering American comic, Jane Lynch.
The influence of Charles Addams shows up in the Lupin family’s Gothic mansion and in the nature of their domestic politics – Freddy’s most devious and energetic enemy is his Uncle Hotspur (Rupert Degas). But the latest Addams Family movie, released a few months ago, looked very tired. In contrast, 100% Wolf gives every sign of being spirited enough to justify the TV series said to be in the making.