The Gruffalo full movie review - A simple enjoyable story told in a very effective and enjoyable way
Having narrowly avoided a predator herself, a mother squirrel calms the nerves of her two young children by telling them a story of a plucky young mouse who travels deep into the woods in search of food only to find predators at every turn ready to trick him into becoming their next meal.
While the satellite channels have pretty much taken away the "big movie premiere" as an event on BBC at Christmas time, the BBC still have their usual weapons by their sides to ensure that people looking for easy festive distraction know they can come to them. As a result we do get several episodes of Eastenders but it does also mean special films of existing shows (such as Dr Who etc) which sometimes can be quite good, but also animated programmes. The usual big winner that everyone thinks of is of course Wallace & Gromit, but this year there was none of them but there was this charming little film sitting comfortably just before the end of David Tenant on Doctor Who.
Based on the very successful children's book (which I've not read), the rhyming dialogue of the mouse's speech appears to have made it as has the look and feel of the film since the animation is very close to what I have seen of the book. In terms of substance it is very simple but effective ? you know where it is going but it has an easy delight to it that one cannot help enjoying. I'm not sure if it is from the book or not but I felt that the narrative device of having us be told the mouse's story via another story teller (and being able to see her audience while also be the audience ourselves) really did work to make it a bit more engaging. The cast is fairly packed with famous voices as well (and not just for UK viewers, which is normally how it works). Although I personally am yet to see what everyone likes about him, Corden does a good job as the mouse ? despite the feeling that the BBC were putting him in everything (this was his first of three appearances at Christmas). He is quite restrained in his delivery, which suits the mouse and the clever little rhyming style of his speech. Carter's narrator is balanced and responsible, with Brydon, Hurt and Wilkinson doing good work in small bits as the predators. Coltrane is the only one that really makes an impression though, since his voice is quite distinctive and he plays up the gruff aspect of it. In terms of the stars, they are all good without being so good that it explains their involvement, but I suppose it helps the film and also represented an easy time commitment from them.
What really made it for me though was the animation. The film looks great but it does it in a way that never feels showy or like it is being done for the sake of it. In terms of bringing it to the screen it somehow manages to be impressive and detailed but yet also keep the rounded colourful nature that one would expect with a children's animated book. To me, the animation did more than the star names in terms of creating the characters and while the casting is a coup that catches the eye, the animators deserve a lot of credit as well.
Overall, a charming little delight ? nothing to blow you away or having you rolling like Wallace & Gromit perhaps, but a simple enjoyable story told in a very effective and enjoyable way.