What would you do if you crossed paths with a jingling lost thing whose oven-shaped body, crustaceous claws, and fleshy tentacles would seem right at home in Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights?
Scream? Run? Release your bowels?
The anonymous narrator of The Lost Thing, a fifteen-minute animation born of Shaun Tan’s all-ages picture book, attempts, instead, to identify it empirically through careful observation, calibrated measurement, and controlled experimentation. When the scientific approach fails, he assumes responsibility for his strange find, leading it through a clanking, grimy landscape where sanitation crews deflate beach balls with pointy sticks after the joyless holiday crowds are dismissed—a vision of steampunk in defeat.
We’re loathe to hit you with any more spoilers. Suffice it to say that this is a fine example of innovatively adapted source material, and that eventually our stoic hero—voiced by British-born Australian comic Tim Minchin—and his charge arrive in a landscape that should cause the inhabitants of the Island of Misfit Toys to stop mooning over Santa.