David Ehrlich with an astute review of Orion and the Dark:
On the one hand, this is the first time since “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” that Kaufman has been credited for writing a film that he didn’t direct himself. On the other hand, it’s hard to put much faith in credits on a streaming platform that doesn’t even let you watch them, and — beloved as Yarlett’s book might be — this project seemed like precisely the kind of content slop whose producers would regard Kaufman’s imprint as less of a feature than a bug.
[...] We can’t know to what (if any) extent Kaufman’s final draft was diluted by the Kafka-esque process of bringing studio animation from script to screen, but it’s safe to say that his signature touch hasn’t been lost in translation. And that touch extends far beyond the stuff of basic character details and unusually sharp versions of the in-jokes that movies like this often lob at the parents who are watching along with their children. “Orion and the Dark” takes the clever wisp of a bedtime story provided by its source material and stretches it into a self-aware and sweetly multi-generational meditation on how beautiful the world can be if you learn to live with your fears.
Kaufman may not have been granted quite the same latitude that Netflix gave him with “I’m Thinking of Ending Things,” as this is still pretty straightforward American kids fare at the end of the day (complete with edgeless character designs and the kind of manic pacing that leaves you a little exhausted by the start of the third act). But then again, it’s possible he didn’t feel compelled to ask for it.
If “Orion and the Dark” is in some respects a major outlier in Kaufman’s body of work, there’s still no getting around the fact that he was just the right fit for the job [...] (Source)