The Little Prince Review

One morning, whilst still in my pyjamas I plonked myself on the sofa and had a scroll through Netflix. I came across The Little Prince, and thought an early morning cartoon was just what I needed. Having never read the book it’s based on, I had no idea what to expect.

I was expecting a quaint little film about a prince going about his princely duties. What I got was a film about something every person has in common, childhood and growing up.

Straight away you’re drawn in with the beautiful animation and the perfectly gravelled voice of Jeff Bridges talking about how he was forced to abandon childish pursuits and grow up when only a young boy.

life plan.pngThe beginning of the film is about a little girl (Riley Osborne), being really encouraged by her mother (Rachel McAdams) to succeed academically, there is even a life plan for the Little Girl, planning her every second through the weeks, months and years to make sure she achieves, though exactly what she is to achieve is never really clear.

little girlOne day, at the start of the school holidays, the Little Girl is left to carry out her life plan alone, the next door neighbour (Jeff Bridges) starts his plane, causing the propeller to crash into her house, leaving a great big hole. After receiving a letter in the form of a paper plane later that night with the beginning of a story on it, she is compelled to ditch her studies and visit the old man next door. From there they strike up a friendship that’s a little like About a Boy meets Pixar.

planeThrough all the time that the little girl and the old aviator spend together he keeps telling her the story of when he met The Little Prince (Paul Rudd) and his adventures, and this the best thing about The Little Prince. It’s a story within a story. The story of the novella is neatly bookmarked between the sections about the little girl, who is trapped in her mother’s dream for her. It is through her time spent with the Aviator and hearing the story of The Little Prince that she is able to enjoy being a child and learns to play and have fun. She learns that books and learning are not the only ways to learn and grow.

prince and foxThe film separates the two different stories with different animation styles. The sections with the Little Girl are all in Pixar level CGI, with all the world around the two protagonists very square and uniform. The sections with The Little Prince use the most amazing stop motion, though it is obviously very modern it really harks back to those old 70s and 80s animated short films, and filled me with nostalgia. I’m a big animation fan, stop motion being my favourite and this was just beautiful to look at.

The story keeps you fully engrossed, though I felt it lost it’s way a little towards the end. I thought it just needed a little tightening, and it manages to flit between the two different sections throughout with ease and precision. I also found at times that it seemed to try a little too hard to be like a Pixar film, especially with it’s soundtrack contains little quaint jazzy numbers, and when it really wants to tug at your heartstrings. I would say that I prefered The Little Prince, partly or my love of stop motion and partly for the sense of wonder and magic held within them.

airplan

All the performances work well, which is a good job considering the great cast list. Jeff Bridges is probably my favourite as The Old Aviator, he manages to be just the right balance of childishly wise and childishly silly, it’s like sitting listening to your favourite grandpa tell you tall tales.

Overall this is a beautiful film. It really explores the themes of childhood and how important it is to run and play and be silly, that books aren’t everything, with a little bit of loss, moving on and learning to be yourself in a world that wants you to conform to boot. I’m not sure if young children would sit through it, as it can be a little slow going compared to a lot of recent movies, but it is certainly a treat for adults who love animation, and great stories about childhood.

★★★★☆

 

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Why Inside Out Should Have Been Nominated for the Best Picture Oscar

Every year the best of the best and glitteriest of the glittery follow their natural homing instincts and gather for the annual Academy Awards ceremony.

oscarThe Academy has long been considered the most prestigious award one can get for making a great movie. Some chase after Oscars for years, desperately starring in anything that they think will get them the coveted gold covered statuette of a naked man.

Some will chase to boost ticket and DVD sales. Some like the respect winning can get you. Others probably enjoy the higher wages one can demand when you’re a big star.

 

One of the most sought after awards is that of the Best Picture, just a nomination can boost sales by up to 60%.

Despite this, The Best Picture Oscar has been very hit and miss over the years, and has often overlooked some amazing films in favour of something that might be a little more mainstream.

carl upAnimation in particular has had to fight to be recognised in it’s own right. The Best Animated Feature award was only introduced in  2001, and animated films have only been nominated for Best Picture three times (Beauty and the Beast in 1992, Up! In 2009 and Toy Story in 2010).

At one point Inside Out was tipped to join the other three and get a nomination for Best Picture. Unfortunately it missed out.

I have only seen two and a half of the Best Picture nominated films, so I’m not going to tell you why they shouldn’t have been nominated, but instead this is an argument as to why Inside Out should have received a nomination.

I’m pretty sure it’s been mentioned before that I love Disney Pixar. Their beloved characters, involving stories and innovative animation techniques make them some of the very best kids movies around.

inside-out-1024x640I think it is this mind set that has often made it difficult for animated films to be taken seriously by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (we’ll call it The Academy for short), they’re often seen as ‘for kids’. For some reason entertainment that is aimed at children is seen a being of a lesser quality, a lesser art form as that for adults.

It’s this perception that really needs to go. Yes it is true that a lot of drivel is pumped out at an exponential rate aimed at capturing children’s attention, and (more importantly, to the makers) their parent’s money. This does not mean that every TV show, book, or movie that is aimed at children is somehow inferior to adult entertainment. This is even before I start on the argument that not all animation is for children and is an art form in it’s own right. 

Inside Out is an exploration of emotions, what they truly mean and how they interact with each other. Emotions are not something that only children experience, they are a universal human experience. So I find it somewhat unfair that The Academy could have perhaps snubbed it for being animated and aimed at children, as it is a very solid piece of cinema that has a lesson we can all learn from.

rileyThe story is about an 11 year old girl named Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), who, along with her family, moves from Minnesota to San Francisco in California. Though initially she seems excited about the new house and a new start. When the new house is a bit of a let down, still no moving truck and her father keeps having heated telephone discussions about his business the dream turns sour.

As she struggles to keep herself together she tries not to let her parents know that she is finding it difficult to adjust and keeps on smiling and not talking about her feelings.

Inside her head we can see those emotions as they all tussle to be in charge on the console. As Joy (a wonderfully chirpy Amy Poehler) struggles to keep Sadness (a wonderfully morose Phyllis smith) at bay. When Sadness keeps making all of Riley’s happy memories sad Joy tries to prise them away from her, in the tussle they both end up getting sucked through a memory recall tube and get lost in the Long Term Memory. Leaving Anger (Lewis Smith), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Fear (Bill Hader) in charge of keeping Riley happy and Joy and Sadness desperately trying to find their way back to help Riley.

 

INSIDE OUT

On the journey home Joy constantly tries to keep everything light and jovial, even when getting back to head quarters seems hopeless, she tries to remain upbeat in the face of adversity. With the help of her companion she has to learn that it’s OK to feel sad when you need to, and to talk to the people you love and trust about being sad, and it is these simple actions that can get you the help you need to bring back the feeling of happiness.

There are also themes of moving on and being able to let go from the past as we can see from the imagination land area of Riley’s brain, which is going over a dramatic makeover from Riley the child to Riley the adult. As well with the character Bing Bong, Rileys’s imaginary friend from when she was little who no longer gets played with but still lingers in her long term memory in the hope that one day he will be remembered.

bing bongThe script is just lovely, for a film about the importance of sadness it’s a pretty funny film, as well as being deeply touching at times. Like the very best Pixar films it makes you cry at more than one point and makes you feel all of the emotions all at once. It manages this all whilst being accessible to everyone, from a young child to an elderly person.

Amy Poehler does a great job of bringing Joy to life, she’s like an animated version of Leslie Knope, her character from Park and Recreation. Though when Joy realises that Sadness was right all along Poehler is able to bring a humility to the performance.

With a solid script (It did get nominated for Best Script at the Oscars) stellar performances and a moving storyline Inside Out should have been in the running for Best Picture, but it missed out.

riley familyWe can’t say for certain why, the nominations are voted for by the members of The Academy, maybe it’s because most of the Academy members are old men, and they are perhaps less inclined to vote for a film about an 11 year old girl over a film about a newspaper investigating paedophilia within the church.

 

Maybe they just didn’t think it was worth it was because it was aimed at children.

Maybe it was simply because it was animated. Who knows?

What I do know, is that this a moving and delightful film for anyone of any age. It helps us all to look at our own emotions and how they can all play a part in making us who we are and contribute to making us happy (even sadness) and that it was deserving of at least a nomination of Best Picture.

 

My Top 5 Disney-Pixar Characters

 

Everyone loves Disney-Pixar. They’re some of the most amazing films that have been made over the last twenty years. They might be classed as children’s movies, but they have always been greatly enjoyed by adults as well. This is mostly thanks to their ability to tap into deep emotions and stories in a way that everyone can understand.

All their best characters are ones that have gone on a true emotional journey to learn something about themselves, and to grow as people giving them a deeper depth than many other kid’s films dare to go.

In this list I’m going to be looking at some of my favourite characters that Pixar have brought to the big screen.

5) Merida (Brave)

brave.png

Who is she?

The feisty red headed Scottish lassy. She’s an independent young lady who doesn’t want to conform to what her mother considers to be ‘lady-like’. So upon discovering her mother expects her to marry a suitor she’s never met before Merida runs away and accidentally turns her mother into a bear. Like you do.

What makes her great?

she’s a princess (a Disney Princess technically) and she breaks all the rules of ‘traditional’ femininity. She fights, is awesome with a bow and arrow and shoves food in her mouth like she’s not been fed in a month.

Her lesson is to learn to bond with her mother. At it’s core Brave is about the mother/daughter relationship. As someone who had a fractious relationship with her mother growing up I’m not ashamed to admit I was in floods of tears at the film’s conclusion when Merida (and her mother) learn the other’s point of view and reach an understanding and reconciliation.

 

4) Carl (up!)

carl up

Who is he?

A curmudgeonly old man who turns his house into a giant hot air balloon using nothing but some very strong string and some party balloons. Though he accidentally brings along Wilderness Explorer, Russell along for the ride.

Why is he great? 

The start of Up! has ten minutes of pure emotion. We see him fall in love with Ellie, their heartbreak at not being able to have children, and then growing old together. We also see the tragedy of Carl lose Ellie.

Carl’s whole world came crashing around him. As such he was unable to move past this, he was stuck trying to relive the life had shared with Ellie. Through his adventure and building (rather unwillingly) a relationship with Russell, Carl is able to learn to say goodbye to Ellie and to begin a new chapter in his life.

3) Joy (Inside Out)

joy and sadness

Who is she?

Joy is the cheery, and very yellow characters in charge of the feelings of happiness inside the head of Riley, a little girl who is struggling with a big move from Minnesota to California.

What makes her great?

Joy always has a need to be in charge, she feels that she cannot let Riley be sad, even when times are tough and Riley is having trouble with the big move, Joy will always find a way to try and keep Riley happy. However, when her and Sadness accidentally get lost in the long term memory Joy learns from Sadness. She comes to realise that not only is it OK to feel sad sometimes, but that it is important to feel sad in order to grow and heal as a person.

2) Wall.e (Wall.e)

wall.e

Who is he?

He’s the cute little robot left on planet Earth to tidy up the mess left by the humans, who are all on a really, really long space cruise.

What makes him so great?

All you need to do is look at him, he’s so cute and adorable. He roams the wasteland of the planet humans once called home. Still carrying out his intended purpose, despite all the others of his kind having burnt out due to the monumental task at hand.

As he wanders through the rubbish dump he finds beauty in the mundane and ordinary. He’s fascinated by Rubix cubes, light bulbs, lighters and ring boxes.

When Eve comes along his love to her is amazing, and helps her to learn to love in return

1) Woody (Toy Story)

woody

Who is he?

If you don’t know Woody you must have been living under a rock for the last 21 years. He’s the rootinest tootinest cowboy leader of the toys from Andy’s Room.

What makes him so great?

He was the first and the best. He’s the cowboy whose everyone’s best friend. Especially Andy.

For years Woody has been Andy’s favourite toy which has given him the position of leader. When Andy’s birthday comes along and a fancy new toy called Buzz Lightyear turns up, Woody can’t help but feel jealous at all the time Andy is spending with his new rival.

After nearly killing Buzz and getting them both lost in the big wide world outside of Andy’s room Woody has to get the two of them back in time before the family move to a new house.

Through the journey Woody learns that Andy will always love him. Even if he might spend time with another toy, Andy will come back, and the best way to be a friend to Andy is just to be there for him whenever he may need Woody. He also learns to befriend Buzz and something may seem like a threat can actually be a big asset.