So, who is Cheburashka? He is a fairytale character who was invented by the Soviet writer Eduard Uspensky in 1966. In 1969, a cartoon was made about Cheburashka and since then he has become one of the most famous, iconic characters for Soviet children. Cheburashka could be called the Soviet Mickey Mouse - both have huge ears. It is true that Mickey Mouse is a mouse, while Cheburashka is an “unknown animal”, a cross between a bear cub and a hare. According to Uspensky's book, he comes to Russia from the rainforest as he is accidentally brought in a box of oranges.
After the break-up of the Soviet Union Cheburashka did not lose his popularity, and even turned into a kind of national symbol - in 2004, for instance, he became the mascot of the Russian Olympic team. In 2021, the company Yellow, Black and White, Russia's most successful private production company, began making a feature film based on the characters invented by Uspensky. Cheburashka himself remained the same unknown big-eared animal, while all the other characters, including Cheburashka's best friend crocodile Gena, became human beings. There is no point in retelling the plot of this comedy. It is modelled on American children's comedies, like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. By the way, the main negative character in the American film is a chocolate factory owner.
Much more important is the context: the film appeared on the screens during the New Year holidays, in a situation when Western films are no longer shown in Russia. However, perhaps the absence of American blockbusters is not so important: in recent years, Russian movies have consistently grossed more than American ones. Leaders at the box office in recent years have been the comedy Serf, which mocks the spoiled golden youth and celebrates traditional values (2019 leader), the patriotic drama about Soviet basketball players Going vertical (2017), the World War II action film T-34 (2018), and the Russian-made Disney tale The Last Warrior - about an undefeated Russian hero (2021).
Against this backdrop, Cheburashka looks striking. In all recent years Russian audiences have gone to cinemas to feel proud, to feel a rush of patriotic feelings.