Its difficult reviewing animated movies, because the quality is often so high, it’s tempting to just rate them all the same. So I tend to be a bit harder on them that some other movies. This unusual story presents an enchanted, fairy tale world that turns its back on magic, favouring technology to develop very much like the regular world. So people have jobs, there’s police, shops, fast food restaurants etc. On his 16th birthday, young elf Ian is given a present from his Dad who died of an illness before he was born, and it turns out to be a wizards staff. After reciting a spell that’s meant to bring the dad back for one day only … the spell goes wrong and only half of the dad’s body comes back – literally from the waist down. However his big brother Barley says there’s a way of completing the spell and so a quest unfolds to resurrect their dad before the sun goes down.
Like Monsters Inc and Inside Out before it, this presents a world full of character and personality. Again it’s a feast for the eyes and full of memorable side characters, pop culture gags and references – but it’s the unique idea that’s the winner; a caper comedy that’s weirdly a lot like 80s comedy Weekend at Bernies. Some moments, especially the freeway chase with the biker sprites certainly had me laughing out-loud. Yet underneath the visuals and gags lies a great deal of heart – something Pixar have always been masters of.
Tom Holland as Ian is perfect, but is overshadowed by Chris Pratt’s Barley who turns a potentially irritating loud mouth of a character into someone I really cared about. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is also good as the two brother’s Mom. The ending also turns the story on its head to deliver an emotion-heavy and wonderfully bittersweet conclusion. So there you have it – damn, another Pixar gem that shouldn’t be missed! Sigh.
Once in a while, a film comes along that is just pure unblemished joy. Now you might say, no film is perfect, and to some extent I would agree, but when a film puts a smile on your face from the beginning and it doesn’t fade until the end credits (and even then it still kinda lingers), then you know the film has worked its magic on you. Disney films have often had this magic, although some efforts have left more of a bad taste in recent years, yet this charming fantasy-musical referrences the House of Mouse’s grandest ideas and sends them up superbly.
A naive wannabe-Princess in an enchanted animated land, falls for a heroic Prince and is soon to be married. Yet on her wedding day a bitter and twisted Queen vows to banish her from the magical land, and pushes her into a well. The young princess-to-be soon wakes up in modern day real-world Manhattan, and realises ‘she’s a long way from kansass’ or words to that effect. This great spin on Disney traditions has a wonderful performance at its heart from Amy Adams as sweet-hearted Giselle, the wannabe-Princess and great support from the Lawyer who takes her under his wing, Patrick Dempsey. We also get a great boo-hiss villian in the shape of Susan Surandon’s wicked Queen, and add excellently staged musical numbers, a good story and some great special effects (with a stand out chipmunk), and well what more can I say?
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