Speaking of which, the animation in FernGully is very impressive. I would be exaggerating if I said it was at the same level as Disney Renaissance masterpieces like Beauty and the Beast or DreamWorks epic tales like The Prince of Egypt, but our little Earth-friendly cartoon still manages to capture our hearts with a fantastic, unique art style. Overall, most of the characters have simple designs, aside from the diabolical Hexxus, brought to flaming, slimy life by the talented hand of Disney animator Kathy Zielinski. Additionally, the film features some preliminary forms of computer animation that is very impressive for the 1990s; even today, I have to acknowledge that it is very detailed and graceful in motion. While nothing exceptional, the art is still beautiful, a jungle vision one would expect from Claude Monet.
With the exception of one element: the villain song. “Toxic Love” is not at all necessary, but, good heavens, is it catchy and diabolical. Performed by Tim Curry in his sneering baritone, this number relates Hexxus’ adoration for pollution and destruction and his newfound love for the machine that has “resurrected” him. In fact, the song actually takes a very risqué turn, the dynamic drum beat and droning saxophone notes tantalizing us with spidery seduction. And here’s a piece of trivia. The original version of “Toxic Love” was actually R-rated, and contains explicit sexual language, which I will not relate here. After being reviewed by the film team, the directors considered it too pornographic for an animated feature and cut it from the final draft. Nevertheless, it is one awesome musical number, one that will forever be stuck in my head….even if it is pointless…and creepily flirtatious.
In all honesty, the characters are very tricky to analyze, mostly because we have seen them many times before in other films. Still, that does not mean they are not memorable. I loved them when I was a child and found them funny, beautiful, or even scary. However, now that I am an adult, I can see why many Internet critics have given these characters negative reviews. As with the music, some elements hold up, while others do not.