'Condorito: La Pelicula' Co-Director Alex Orrelle On Making The Risqué Comic Strip Adaptation More Kid-Friendly

Condorito La Pelicula still 

Condorito, the beloved Latin American comic strip, comes to the big screen in animated form on January 12. CONDORITO: LA PELÍCULA, however, strips away some of the sexist and chauvinist tones of the original. Israeli director Alex Orrelle co-directs the Spanish film and explains why the beloved caricature had to be kid friendly.  

Condorito Director Alex OrelleOmar Chaparro, Jessica Cediel and Cristian de la Fuente give life to the characters in CONDORITO: LA PELÍCULA. Condorito is voiced by Mexican comic Omar Chaparro while de la Fuente plays the little condor’s romantic rival Pepe Cortisona. Yayita, Condorito’s love interest is voiced by Jessica Cediel. In the movie adaptation, Condorito must rescue his future suegra after Yayita’s mother Tremebunda is abducted by an alien king. Condorito and his nephew blast off into an outer space adventure to score points with his love.

CONDORITO: LA PELÍCULA co-director Alex Orrelle was brought in by producers after finding him on Linkedin.  Orrelle worked in Hollywood for eights years with a short stint at Pixar for THE INCREDIBLES and other animated projects like ICE AGE: A MAMMOTH CHRISTMAS TV short. He returned to Israel to raise a family even though the country has a small animation industry, he’s been able to work remotely.

The producer’s animation studio who brought the rights to the Chilean comic strip were located in Lima, Peru, but Orrelle didn’t want to uproot his family to the Latin American country for three years. They came to an agreement that he would travel every three months to Lima. He would also co-direct with Eduardo Schuldt.

Condorito La Pelicula still4

Distance wasn’t that much of a hindrance says the animation director, but not knowing the Spanish language was a much bigger hurdle. The director says his Spanish knowledge was limited to simple commands.

“I would learn the words or look them up in Google Translate and sort of mangle Spanish… completely Frankensteined sentences together in order to tell them what I want. Everybody would laugh at it and break the ice. It also made them calm down and disarm the whole situation.”

Another challenge for Orrelle in bringing the Chilean comic strip to life in CG was updating the humor.

The animated feature film industry is largely targeted as family entertainment so the cheeky nature of the original would have to be toned down for kid-friendly enjoyment.  

“That was a challenge because Condorito is famous for being cheeky and going to those kind of places," says the Israeli-born director. "It’s also very old-fashioned. Yes, Latin America tends to be more old school about those kind of subjects - sexism, about sexuality, smoking, drinking - a lot of things that are not appropriate for a family film.” He added, “It’s 2017. It’s time to move forward to rejuvenate an idea, a brand like Condorito, we have to bring Condorito and all those characters into the 21st century with the social evolution.”

CONDORITO: LA PELICULA needs to be a commercial film because animation is so expensive, adds the director. Markets are strict about content specifically regarding drinking on screen. This would pose a challenge for one of Condorito’s friend Garganta de Lata ("Tin Throat"), a drunk with a penchant for living at the bar. While there is no on screen drinking and alcohol references are at a minimum, says Orrelle, his behavior will be true to the original.

As far as objectifying women as often seen in the comic strip, that had to be toned down for the big screen adaptation as well.

“We avoided sexuality but we more than made up for that with some good relationships and true feeling of innocent love, and a lot of comedy.”

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Yayita’s “ball-busting” mother-in-law is also given a more sympathetic arc in the movie. In the comic strip, she’s physically and emotionally unattractive, often the butt of the joke, and generally an angry, pathetic woman with a cheating husband. The film starts out with the character fans have come to know but she eventually grows as a character.

“What we’d like to do is misdirect that concept by starting out true to the comic strip and sending her on an adventure for some redemption and force Condorito to realize that she is a feeling person with needs. She has an arc.”

Hopefully fans will be open to those changes. The change that is most annoying Condorito fans is the title European distributors gave to the adaptation. The film will be known as “Space Chicken” which is a misnomer since Condorito is a condor aka vulture not a chicken. Orrelle has no control over the decision, but he teases that he will issue an apology to outraged fans

“There’s so much hate about the name from fans of Condorito in Latin America that somebody needs to address it. So a video apology is coming but make it sincere but funny.”  

CONDORITO: LA PELICULA opens in U.S. movie theaters on January 12.

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